Cambodia, Phnom Penh, April 2006

Chantrea, 37, sits with her three year old son, Sa On, in the Wat Prasat Veang Khmao (Black Lady Temple) as she tells her story.

Her husband committed suicide by drugs three months after the birth of her son. He did not know about antiretroviral therapy and was hoping to be able to provide his wife with an inheritance. During his illness, the family sold their land in order to look after him, and more money was spent trying to revive him.

Sa On is HIV-negative even though Chantrea did not receive AZT and nevirapine during labour. Chantrea lived at the Partners in Compassion centre when she was ill. Now she has returned home, living off the remaining assets from her husband and receives food assistance. She does not work. Chantrea is taking antiretroviral therapy.

Chantrea has no skills except sewing. She was orphaned at a young age and her mother-in-law, who is 78 years old, assists her. Her sister in Phnom Penh sends $US 10 per month. Chantrea says that economically she is alright if she is not ill. Illness means that she has to buy extras which is a financial strain.

Chantrea visits the support group at the Wat where she receives up-dated medical information and the members report on their health status. If she has any problems with her medication, she contacts MSF.

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