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Faith Stronger than a Diagnosis

A mother diagnosed with HIV finds shelter and love through Compassion and the Child Survival Program

Maria doesn’t like to talk about her HIV diagnosis. She was just 7 when she started feeling ill, started having fainting spells. After two years, her parents saved up enough to take her to a clinic for bloodwork.

Her parents were shocked by Maria’s diagnosis. Maria says over the years she and her family have developed theories about how she was infected, but ultimately Maria decided to focus on living in the present instead of in the past.

Because the present was hard enough.

Maria has found a safe community at the Compassion center.

“Since the day my relatives found out about my condition, they looked at me as a problem,” says Maria. “I was left on my own. In my despair, I wanted to commit suicide. But then God interfered and saved my life.”

Maria was 14 when she ran away from home. In Honduras there were few resources to help a teenager suffering from HIV, but Maria found a clinic where she could get antiretroviral treatment and medical tests. She lived on her own for the next five years, rarely hearing from her family.

When Maria was 19, she discovered she was pregnant. Her partner abandoned her when she refused to end the pregnancy.

“I embraced my child’s arrival as a God-given gift,” says Maria. “I put our lives in God’s hands.”

Maria did everything she could to prevent passing her disease to her unborn child. She gave birth to Jose by Caesarean section, and the boy was born healthy, with no sign of HIV.

But Maria struggled to provide for Jose. How could she afford her own medical care, the food she needed to stay healthy, and care for her little boy?

When Jose was 6 months old, Maria heard about a church in her community that offered a program to assist mothers and babies.

“I was very excited when my baby and I enrolled,” says Maria. “I get to share with other mothers in the program, and together we seek God’s favor for our children. I have found no rejection toward me at all.”

Maria spends a quiet moment with her 2-year-old son, Jose.

"As a woman of faith, I put God first and left both of our fates in His hands,” says Maria.

In addition to the lessons Maria learns, she also receives the support of Compassion’s AIDS Initiative. While many countries, especially in Africa, have government-subsidized medical care for those suffering from AIDS, most Latin American countries offer far fewer resources. But now, when the clinic runs out of Maria’s medications, she knows she can go to the church and her friends at Compassion for help.

Through the AIDS Initiative, Maria also receives transportation to the clinic, as well as monthly groceries that help her stay healthy and strong.

Today, Maria partners with government organizations to speak about preventing the spread of HIV to unborn children. She is a busy single mother of 2-year-old Jose, and working hard in her sandal-making class at the Compassion center, hoping to learn a marketable skill. But most of all, she is passing on hope to her son, providing him with the tools to break the bonds of poverty.

Currently

39.602

People are receiving antiretroviral therapy through Compassion's AIDS Initiative.

In six months,

93,331

children and family members were tested for HIV.

11

countries have accessed support from Compassion's AIDS Initiative in the past two quarters.