Antonio Junior Xiranza is 12 years old. He lives with his Aunt Talita Agosto Mujovo, 39, and her three children in Maputo, Mozambique, after his parents both died from HIV-related illnesses. Antonio is HIV positive, something that Talita was able to reveal to him over the course of nine counselling sessions through IPPF Member Association AMODEFA’s Ntyiso programme.
When Antonio was sent to Talita in 2015 he had no understanding of his illness. He was severely underweight and wouldn’t take his medication. “I didn’t think he was going to make it,” says Talita.
But following AMODEFA’s intervention last year Antonio’s health has improved rapidly and is gaining weight. This is in large part because Antonio, though still young, has chosen to take on the responsibility for managing his illness himself.
“He takes his medication without being told”, says Talita. “If he’s injured he knows the other children can’t touch his wound.”
Antonio is still small for his age but says he feels stronger. He is well enough now to attend school regularly and is already thinking about the future; when he grows up he wants to be a fireman.“I am happy about life here,” he says, shyly.
Talita says she is “relieved” to see these changes in Antonio. “At first I was not going to say anything. I would have waited until he was 18 to tell him,” Talita says, which would have continued to put pressure on the entire family. “But with the help of the counselling I had through Ntyiso I was able to tell him now.”
While Ntyiso was intended to help parents speak more openly about HIV with their children, it has given Talita the confidence to discuss the illness more widely.
“I was able to tell my father, who was sick and had a wound, that he should get tested for HIV,” she says. Her father was diagnosed positive and is now in treatment. “Before I wouldn’t have advised people to take the test, I would have just kept quiet,” she says.