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But Lamaro has learned to live with her trauma. At the age of 15, she, too, was traumatized after being raped and infected with HIV.

By Christopher Nyeko

GLU: For the past two weeks, a 26-year-old woman named Barbra Lamaro has been distressed after her 11-year-old son, who was born HIV-positive, has refused to take his daily medication.

The worrying habit began on the 15th of this month when Lamaro was physically assaulted by a neighbor who accused her of stealing and later mocked her for being HIV-positive while throwing her ARV drugs at her in public.

Lamaro, who is a resident of Layibi centers A and B in Gulu City, told this online publication that her son was watching everything, and it traumatized him.

“The following day, when time came for his medication, he openly refused to take his pill and questioned why he was taking medication on a daily basis, unlike other children,” she said.

But Lamaro has learned to live with her trauma. At the age of 15, she, too, was traumatized after being raped and infected with HIV.

For many people like Lamaro, being a victim of sexual and gender-based violence and living with HIV at the same time without proper support can be unbearable.

Such stories are common in war-scarred Northern Uganda, where mental health remains high and access to mental health remains a challenge.

The HIV prevalence rate in Gulu city stands at 12.4 percent, according to the Uganda AIDS Commission report of 2022.

Victor Rwegabo from the Uganda Aid Commission revealed that HIV-related deaths remain high in Acholi, adding that many patients face high levels of stigma on a daily basis, affecting their adherence to ARVs and accessing HIV-related services.

Dr. Beatrice Achan, the Gulu HIV focal point person, advised that such children need to be transferred to children’s rehabilitation centers where counseling and guidance services are available and where they can access psychosocial support to enable them to adhere to their mediation.

For Lamaro’s story, the inhuman incident has affected her son’s social life, as he no longer plays with the rest of the kids for fear of being mocked for being HIV-positive.

Without expert help, Lamaro is worried for her son if he continues living without taking his HIV treatment.

Phycologist Freddy Oyat describes the situation as an acute stress reaction, which can lead to suicide if not well assessed by a child psychologist.

He advises the parents to inform their children about why they are doing specific things to create trust between them and their children.

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