‘I’m proof HIV shouldn’t stop you being a parent’: Student, 20, gives birth to a healthy baby boy after inheriting the virus from her mother

Paida and her mother
Paida and her daughter
Paida and her mother

Rochdale student, Paida Mutopo, 20 gives birth to a healthy baby boy after inheriting HIV from her mother. Mutopo was 11 years old when she found out that she was HIV positive. She was scared that she won’t be able to live a normal life and have children because of fear of passing it on to the children like her mother did.
She said ‘when I found out I was pregnant, I was so scared and at the same time excited. When I found out I was HIV positive, I never thought I was going to have a child and that was something I wanted in my life,’ she continued ‘if he had been positive I would have felt so bad, I would have just blamed myself.’
Advances in medicine made it possible that with just three tablets daily, the risk of Paida passing the virus to her children was reduced. Five months ago, her son Kai was born and she was happy that he tested HIV positive. In the UK, with management and screening, the chances of passing on the virus from mother to child is low. Implementing management techniques on how the baby is delivered to how the baby is fed which includes avoiding breastfeeding can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to the child.
Paida was born in Zimbabwe and didn’t know she had the disease becuase her mother, Mavis, never knew she was HIV positive until Paida was diagnosed with HIV. Doctors believe Paida most likely got the virus from her mother. Her mother was shocked by the diagnoses and hid it from Paida. ‘It was a huge shock since so many relatives had passed away from HIB in Zimbabwe,’ she said ‘it was very difficult and I was constantly asking myself “what should I do? Should I kill myself and Paida?”
‘I passed it on to my daughter, unknowingly, but that sense of guilt, it’s always in you; you know if she’s not well, you’re thinking “it’s because of me.” ‘
Mavis talked about how she was told not to tell her daughter yet until she moved to the UK and when her daughter was 11. Paida felt isolated and depressed after finding out of her disease. She was teased in school
‘My life changed a lot, when I would get to school I could be walking in a corridor full of people and I would just hear someone should “HIV” or “die”. She said she had a difficult time ‘my age group didn’t understand it, and no one wanted to near me, they just seen me like I’m disgusting or something. Before I used to share food and drinks with my friends, but after that, they would rather stay away from me.’
Paida didn’t want to live in secret and in shame of having HIV, so at age 16, she posted on Facebook that she was HIV positive. She felt relieved that she could openly talk about having HIV and she doesn’t have to walk by and people would point and say “have you heard that girl, she’s got HIV”.
She plans on going to school to be a social worker to have a good future for her and her son, and also use Facebook and snapchat to help people with HIV stand up high, without being stigmatized.
‘I want to one day wake up and know there is no more stigma surrounding HIV and I was the cause of that, for the stigma to go, that is my dream so I hope one day I will achieve it.’
Infectious disease consultant, Dr Katherine Ajdukiewicz, at North Manchester General Hospital applauds Paida of her awareness tactic. Dr Katherine said ‘the life expectancy of someone living with HIV is now comparable with the rest of the population, which is certainly not what it was when I started working in this field. We’re living in the shadow of the “don’t die of ignorance” era of the mid-eighties and we haven’t gone beyond that yet, so the more individuals like Paida can do to increase awareness the better.’