Thursday, June 27, 2019
   
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Christopher Leo


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imagesIn 2005, Christopher Leo was very sick with severe arthritis and was admitted at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada, Nigeria. His situation was so pathetic because his wife died of AIDS leaving behind two children for him to care for. When his case seemed not to be improving, his family members planned to take him to his village, SabonGida in Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State; because they believed that he would not make it. They reasoned that he would die just as his wife died.

But Christopher survived because he started receiving HIV medications at the teaching hospital, which is supported by the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) with funds from PEPFAR through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "When I started taking the drugs, I discovered that within months, I became very strong. Before I knew it, the weakness I had because of arthritis left. I decided that since it is this drug that made me better, I won't play with it," he says.

He is doing well and is now a Treatment Support Specialist at the same hospital where he was once hospitalized. He interactsimages with other people living with HIV who are accessing treatment. He openly discloses his status and encourages his peers to adhere to treatment and live positively with HIV. "I'm always with my drugs. I use my pill box to tell patients how important it is to take their drugs at the right time and by doing so, I've helped many people."

His zeal to assist people living with HIV in taking their medications is evident in the hospital where he responds to enquiries of many who throng to the clinic daily. He also educates them on adherence.

Christopher gives health talks at the hospital and advises people living with HIV who are enrolled for HIV medications. "During health talks, I ask for anybody who is coming for the first time so that I can share my own experience and if there is anything that they don't want to ask in public, I tell them to feel free to ask in public, I tell them to feel free to ask me later.

Christopher, 39, has remarried and has two more children who are HIV negative. He met his new wife in a PEPFAR supported group of people living with HIV.

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