Hug reunites a sister with her brother living with HIV

“We knew about the infection when his father died. You can imagine how a 9-year-old son would deal with such news”.

Dalia Younis
A technician conduct PCR test for HIV at a lab in Yala Sub-County Hospital in Kenya.
UNICEF/Kenya 2016/Shehzad Noorani
19 December 2018

Cairo, Egypt - Mona (not her real name) and her son discovered they were living with HIV following the unexplained deterioration in her husband’s health that ended up with his death. Her son was having mixed feelings of shock and denial that made him refuse to take his medications. She felt completely lost till she knew about Nusoor (the Eagles) volunteers team and attended one of their meetings organized to support families with children living with HIV. 

Meetings of support

“The meetings are organized by the National AIDS program and UNICEF Egypt through Nusoor team. The main objectives of these meetings are to raise the families’ awareness level regarding the treatment, proper nutrition, opportunistic diseases, vaccinations and other essential information. These meetings are also a good opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge of the psychological and social challenges faced by the parents and answer their questions”, said Dr. Maged Ragaie, HIV/AIDS officer in UNICEF Egypt.

When Mona’s son Mohammed (not his real name) started attending the meetings with her, he realized he wasn’t alone. Little by little, he became less reluctant to take his medication and agreed with his mother to call it the ‘headache pill’ so that his sister (who’s HIV negative) won’t find out.

Nusoor also invited the young boy to join their outings and activities to help him mingle with other children living with HIV. He was feeling welcomed and safe.

Becoming an Eagle 

Grateful for the positive impact of these meetings and the different support activities on her and her son’s lives, Mona decided to volunteer in Nusoor and become one of the ‘Eagles’ helping mothers who find themselves in the same situation.

Nusoor is a team of PLHA (People Living with HIV/AIDS) volunteers that started in 2015 with UNICEF support. Their objective is to help PLHA, change the society's view of them and contribute to the national response to HIV/AIDS. Nusoor team offers various services to support PLHA such as sharing useful information about available psychological support, medical and legal services if needed, dates and venues for treatment literacy sessions, referral to specialized children support motivation and support to overcome adherence challenges.  To date, Nusoor is a team of 30 volunteers working in 8 governorates (Cairo, Guiza, Qualiobya, Alexandria, Sharkia, Behaira, Minia and Gharbeya).

“I regularly visit the Fever Hospital where most cases go for their treatment. When I find out about a parent with a recently-discovered infection, I reach out to make sure he or she has access to the right sources of information and service providers”, said Mona.  She also discusses different services available to mothers and children in both governmental and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) facilities based on her own experience and the trainings she got from Nusoor.

Re-uniting siblings

Today, 35 parents and their children were invited by Nusoor to attend this meeting. Mona was spreading positive vibes among the attendees and welcoming those who attended for the first time.

She remembered a story before the event was concluded: “I knew about a child who loved his sister so much yet he was too scared to come close to her after he knew he was infected and she wasn’t. In the meeting that followed, I asked my son to be extra nice to his sister and show his affection to her in front of the scared boy to let him know it was ok to touch other non-infected family members. When the boy saw my son hugging his sister, he hugged his own sister dearly as if they hadn’t met in years. I felt I reunited them in that day”.