Patience Hlengiwe Kweyama is a Site Coordinator for mothers2mothers (m2m) at Hlengisizwe Community Health Centre in Durban, South Africa. In her role as Site Coordinator, Mrs. Kweyama oversees day-to-day operations for m2m’s local service delivery operations. Mrs. Kweyama and her team provide crucial education and support as HIV-positive women for HIV-positive mothers to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).
Mrs Kweyama and her staff educate expectant mothers about PMTCT and maternal and child health subjects including: nutrition, safe sex practices, HIV/AIDS treatment, best feeding options, reproductive health and family planning, grief counselling, and general health maintenance for mother and child. Additionally, Mrs Kweyama is a spokesperson for m2m, providing community outreach on subjects including combating stigma and promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and testing.
Mrs Kweyama is a mother of 5 children and was diagnosed HIV positive in 1996, but she didn’t accept her status until she met m2m during a hospital visit in her last pregnancy. She was amazed by the strength and courage the Mentor Mother, who was conducting an educational talk, showed. Because m2m was not yet established at the local clinic where she was receiving prenatal care she payed close attention to what was being said.
Mrs Kweyama learnt from the educational talk about the importance of knowing one’s CD4 count (a CD4 test measures the number of T-helper cells in the blood, which is known as the CD4 count). When she went back to her clinic to find out what her CD4 count was she was told it was 2, and she had to start ARVs immediately. She gave birth to an HIV-negative child and she has disclosed to the rest of her family, including her husband; who is also HIV-positive and taking ARVs.
Mrs Kweyama dedicates her time to educating women, ensuring they do not make the same mistake she did, having unplanned children and not considering the future. She encourages women to accept their status and to find help whenever they need to.
Mrs Kweyama is fluent in English and IsiZulu and in her spare time she writes poems and participates in her local choir.