A mother with HIV explains how she went on to have two children following her diagnosis – both of whom are free of the virus.
Amanda Mammadova was given the news she was HIV positive eight years ago after a routine health check to join the RAF. The personal trainer, who was in a new relationship, said all she could think was: “I’m going to die.”
She says: “I got my results at work on a lunch break at work. The receptionist at the clinic phoned me and told me, ‘You need to come in.’ When I asked why she said, ‘There’s something wrong with your blood.’ She said she couldn’t tell me. But I wouldn’t let her get off the phone. She eventually told me I was HIV positive.
“It was such a shock, it was mind blowing and completely floored me.” She adds: “The minute I heard those test results I thought ‘I’m going to die, and ‘nobody will ever want me again’. I just thought this was the start of a very miserable existence.” Her results came four days before she was due to visit her boyfriend, who was living in Azerbaijan. She decided to reveal the news over Skype as she was sure he would end their relationship.
But two weeks later he proposed and six months later they were married. He tested negative for HIV.
HIV and Kids: History of the lady
Ms Mammadova, 38, who works with the Bloomsbury Network, a charity attached to the Bloomsbury Clinic, had a child from a previous relationship but wanted more. She says: “I assumed my diagnosis meant I wouldn’t be able to.” HIV medication reduces the amount of the virus in the blood to undetectable levels. Once someone is on antiretroviral drugs the level of HIV can be cut so that the virus cannot be passed on during sex.
When Ms Mammadova, who lives in Milton Keynes, found out her “viral load” – the amount of virus in blood – was undetectable she decided to try to get pregnant. Saabira, five, was born on 15 February, 2013. “They took her blood straight away. I couldn’t watch. It was terrifying. You know the risk of passing on the virus is less than one percent but you are scared for your baby. We waited a couple of weeks before being told she was negative.”
Then Logan, three, was born on 11 July, 2015. At the first birth she had a midwife wearing double gloves and a face mask. At the second, there was no mask and just the standard one pair of gloves. “The situation was very different,” says Ms Mammadova, who suspects she contracted it from a former boyfriend. “It was like even in that short period things had moved on.”
Older daughter Lauren, 18, was told about her mother’s HIV status aged 12. “In a sex education class one teacher said when a woman has HIV she can’t have children,” says Ms Mammadova, who split up with her husband 18 months ago. “Lauren told her she was wrong and that I was pregnant.
“People told me to keep quiet about my status but I thought, ‘How dare you tell me to keep quiet like I’m ashamed about it? It’s not a dirty little secret.’ What I’d say to anyone diagnosed is: life is full of surprises. Don’t write anything off. HIV means you can live the same as everyone else.”
Ms Mammadova is in a short film about living with HIV, A Life Beyond. Visit bloomsburynetwork.co.uk/event/a-life-beyond-screening
Money raised from public donations through the AIDSfree appeal will be used to support the Elton John AIDS Foundation projects in six key cities around the world (London, Nairobi, Atlanta, Kiev, Delhi and Maputo).