Diary of a LagosMums | Nanny HIV Scare
A shocking and emotional roller coaster I have just been through…..
I got a nanny through an agency, an agency I was comfortable using because they appeared to be rather professional and seemed to be more organized and trustworthy than just your regular run of the mill street guy who places girls in your houses…pimps I call them.
From day one the agency was responsive, did all the administrative paperwork required. She came with a set of paperwork which contained her background check report, guarantor information, finger prints and her medical reports…everything that would be a cause for alarm was marked as “negative”.
She herself, I will call her Z was quite a good one…I mean I have been through a lot of domestic staff so this one was great in almost all the areas one would be measuring. She was educated, well spoken, proactive, and friendly with the children and other staff, had a sense of humor, and to top it all could also cook some delicious and scrumptious meals, not just rice and stew on a daily basis.
When people asked me how she is doing I would say she is great, but after going through so many bad experiences I was hesitant to use the phrase “she seems perfect”.
I don’t believe in coincidences! I believe everything happens for a reason. Through the Lagosmums site, I have met some amazing women with whom our paths may never have crossed. One of the ladies, who I will call Ms P, is a psychologist and runs a nanny agency but with a twist, she carries out yes the basic background checks on nannies but also carries out nanny assessments, reviews how best they should care for children and communicates this with them, discusses the use of a log book as a communication tool etc.
Thinking this was a good idea she offered to assess Z even though I didn’t get her from her agency, she was happy to carry out this assessment on her and also carry out the background check. Finally about a month and a half after Z started with me I decided it was time for her to go to Ms. P. Expecting that it would be routine, she would come back and I would get the report that she was great (as great as I thought). In a space of 2 hours I went through quite a roller coaster ride….Ms P called me to inform me that the results of the tests on Z had come back and she had tested positive for HIV 1 and HIV 2 …. I thought I didn’t hear right! I literally started shaking as soo many thoughts went through my head….She had lived in our house for a month and a half. She had played with my children, cooked our meals, washed and cleaned and been in our midst in general. At the same time I was chastising myself and reminding myself to be rational and remember that HIV isn’t contagious from food! It is not airborne! And you don’t get it from touching. The chance of anyone in the house having contacted it is pretty slim…But logic and emotions rarely go together.
I sent her to another lab for another series of tests hoping against hope that perhaps the results were wrong? Thinking oh no! did she know? Was she hiding it? If she doesn’t know then do I have to inform her…how will she handle it..did the agent know? Soo many thoughts at the same time.
Results number 2 came in and it was also positive…….
I immediately came home and bundled my kids and myself and other nanny into the car and drove to the neighborhood clinic to get tested for HIV. The doctor understood my anxiety and carried out the tests himself, but reminded me it is good to check again in 3 months and in 6 months. I thought Dr dude you are not helping my already frayed nerves right now!!!
We thank the good Lord that the tests came out Negative.
Now on to what to do with respect of Z, do I tell her, do I send her back to the agency?
This highlighted so many things. How many people test and re-test their domestic staff to confirm that the results they came with is accurate, how many people re-test every 6 months as is recommended? How many of us really understand and are tolerant of other people with HIV…Was I hasty in sending her away? I was quick to accuse the agent thinking here we go with yet another fraudulent agency, whereas it could be very possible or plausible that the virus just did not show on the test (after all they do recommend that tests are repeated every 3 – 6 months).
I had to break the news to her and she was in shock…I broke down in tears. It is probably one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life. This was not about a nanny or a madam…this was a human being to a human being sharing such bad news.
Turns out she is engaged to be married and is now undergoing counseling and getting advise on the best course of treatment.
LagosMums how seriously do you take the testing of your domestic staff who work for you? It is not only HIV to be worried about, we owe it to our homes and children to ensure we have safe staff in our homes!photo courtesy sodahead