Single parent Paida Mutopo has been enjoying her first few months as mum to son Kai – but it hasn’t been an easy ride.
The 20-year-old is HIV positive and was terrified about passing on the potentially fatal virus on to her baby.
‘When I found out that I was pregnant, I was so scared and at the same time I was excited because when I found out I was HIV positive I never thought that I was gonna have a child.’
Normally, Paida takes 3 different tablets each night to keep her condition under control but took extra top-up drugs during her pregnancy to minimise the chances of her passing on the disease to her baby boy.
Despite these extra precautions – Paida and her family still feared the worst.
‘I don’t think I would have been able to live with that if we had found out he was HIV positive.’
Luckily – Kai tested negative and Paida’s medication has been so effective that virus can no longer be detected in her blood.
Paida’s mum Mavis believes that she contracted HIV from Paida’s dad, but was unaware they both had the condition until Paida was taken seriously ill aged 9.
Doctors suspected that her kidneys were failing, and discovered that she had HIV whilst carrying out tests.
They, along with mum Mavis who was struggling to comprehend her own diagnosis, decided to wait another 2 years before telling Paida about her condition.
But even though she was older – the news was still a devastating blow for Paida.
‘When my doctor and my mum decided to tell me that I was HIV positive I just wanted to kill myself to be honest. And I had a lot of suicidal thoughts for a long time.’
And when word of her diagnosis got out at school, things went from bad to worse.
“I could be walking in a corridor full of a lot of people and I would just hear someone like shout ‘HIV’ or ‘die’. Before that I used to like share food and drinks with my friends but after that they would rather stay away from me.’
Finally, when she was 16-years-old Paida felt strong enough to come out as HIV positive on Facebook and is now continuing her brilliant work raising awareness on Snapchat.
‘I felt so relieved, that I’m not hiding anything anymore, that people know about me without anyone saying ‘oh, have you heard that girl she’s got HIV.’’
‘I think what people don’t understand is people still think when you’ve got HIV you definitely pass it on.’
‘I decided to raise awareness about HIV and talk about my story and encourage some of the people that are on Snapchat to get tested. And also explain to them more about HIV itself.’
‘I want one day to just wake up and know that there’s no more stigma surrounding HIV and that is my dream so I hope one day I will achieve it.’
Keep up the good work Paida!