Mace*, a 32-year old mother living with HIV, vividly recounted the struggles she went through up to the moment she was diagnosed with HIV in 2017.

First, her newborn baby got sick. Then her mother passed away a few months later. She soon fell ill after because of the stress. 

The mother of two went through multiple tests for several months but the result only showed she had pneumonia. 

Finally, the doctor asked for her consent if she’s willing to get tested for HIV. 

“I agreed because I want to end my suffering,” she said.

The result revealed she was reactive.

She and her husband separated after he learned about her condition. He also got himself tested along with their two children. 

“My ex-husband doesn't want to reveal his result to me,” she said. 

Their eldest son got a negative result but their youngest daughter, Tiffany*, wasn't spared from the infection. 

Mace makes it a point to replenish their bottles of antiretroviral (ARV) medicine when only 10 tablets are left in their monthly supply. But when the government imposed a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, she can no longer travel to her treatment hub in Pasig City for a refill.

ARV drugs, which Mace and Tiffany get for free at the treatment hub they are enrolled in, help them lead long and healthy lives while there is still no effective cure for HIV/AIDS.

She hopes that a cure will finally be discovered.

Tiffany takes two different kinds of ARV medicine, which her mother pounds using any sturdy objects to make it into a fine powder. 

“I learned how to do this from someone because the pharmacy won’t allow for the tablets to be crushed for free if we don’t buy anything from them,” Mace said in Tagalog. “They’ll also ask what the medicines are for, I don’t want to be exposed.”

She hopes that a cure will finally be discovered.

“I don’t want her to experience discrimination. I want to introduce her to the community we belong to.” 

*Names were changed to protect their identities.

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