Saleha (not her real name) is a 37-year-old mother from Sungai Sumun, Perak, who is living with HIV. She was diagnosed with HIV in 2011 when she was pregnant with her son. Fortunately, he is not infected as Saleha had started treatment immediately after her diagnosis.

However, she suffered severe side effects from her first-line medication and her condition continued to deteriorate. The doctor then advised her to go on second-line treatment but Saleha could not afford the new medication because of her financial situation. Due to her poor health, Saleha was unable to work and had to depend on her husband’s meagre income as a farmer. His earnings are hardly enough to support the family, let alone to buy her expensive medication.

Fortunately, in 2014, Saleha qualified as a beneficiary of the PAL Scheme, a programme run by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation, where she received free second-line HIV treatment. Her CD4 count increased significantly from 373 to 674 and her viral load reached an undetectable level by 2018.

Saleha’s health greatly improved and she was able to help her husband earn more money for the family by working on their small farm where they grow their own vegetables and also fruits to be sold at the local market.

Saleha continues to grow stronger by the day and is now able to lead a normal life. She feels blessed by this turn of events for her and the family.

“I am so thankful that I still get to live every day because of the help that I received from the PAL Scheme. I want to thank Yayasan Sime Darby for sponsoring the programme and also the Malaysian AIDS Foundation for being there for me when I needed help the most,” said Saleha.