In my teens I was addicted to drugs. I think I got HIV from sharing needles. I found out I was HIV-infected during my pregnancy with Nong Kao, my third child. I didn’t pay much attention. I only knew from the media that this ailment was sure to end in death. I was, however, scared by the thought that my kid would get the infection from me.Nonetheless, it seems that the baby wanted to be born, and to live.

The doctor said I couldn’t breastfeed and that I had to be very strict about administering drops to the baby every four hours for two months. I paid strict attention to the doctor’s instructions. I didn’t want my baby to get infected on account of me.

During the time I was very sick, I received love and support from my mother and my daughter. My mother took care of me. Three of her children have died from HIV. I am the only one who survived. One of the staff at the hospital asked me, “Keng, don’t you want to live and spend your life with your lovely son?” Encouragement was important. If I hadn’t heard those words, I wouldn’t have thought about who would take care of my kids and family. I couldn’t die now.I recovered so fast. It took me only two months.

My son and I are very close. Little by little, I have explained to him about my illness. The big question for me now is, how can I live happily while having HIV in my body? If you can’t win over your own mind, you can’t win over HIV.

These days, I love watching movies and listening to music, when I come back home after work, sitting in front of the TV or computer, enjoying programs or games together. Our family routine is to watch movies—at least three—before going to bed. I cook meals for everyone. When I cook, I prepare massive quantities. I love to eat and want everyone to be well fed. When the kids have days off or holidays, we always go out for some fun. They take me to fish and to play in the nearby canal with them. I always go and sit in the sun waiting for them to catch fish. Once they catch one, we release it back. We don’t want to kill it. I love to be with all the kids. They make me so happy.


When I was pregnant with my third child, the doctor told me they found a problem with my blood.

I cried for seven days. I didn’t eat anything. All I could do was cry. Then I discovered more information and realized that there was a way to live. If I took medicine as the doctor said, HIV would not transmit to my baby. I felt so great that she was born in good health. I hadn’t done anything to hurt her. My kids know I have HIV, and they give me the strength to live. My eldest daughter says, “Mom, you have to be with us, we will live together. When I grow up, I will take care of you.”

My current husband is my third and he is a good guy. We have been together more than ten years and he still treats me nicely. I am so happy. I am happy everyday now.

On normal days I volunteer at the hospital. Otherwise I sell fruit in the market. Until photography refreshed my eyes, the produce in the market didn’t look interesting or appetizing to me. I lived there everyday. I got jaded. I was so worried at first when I started shooting photos in the market, but I had fun once I got going. When I saw the photos afterward, I felt so alive.

Normally, my father-in-law and I are not close. So I was surprised that he let me take his photo. He likes to sit there, watching TV. I think it reminds him of watching with his wife. Behind him, on the wall, is a portrait of the King, who is a father figure too.

Looking in the mirror I think to myself, I am just an ordinary thirty- six-year-old woman, a mother and wife, but I am still capable of taking care of everyone in the family. The mirror reflects who I am and my life. I have to look after myself. If I don’t take care of myself, how can I take care of others?

Sometimes there are four kids sitting on the bed while I am doing other things. You can see the affection among us.

Family is my medicine, healing my wounds. Sometimes I completely forget I have HIV.