Exposed to HIV – Twice
An Adventist nurse credits God and medicine for saving her life in Mozambique.
Maria Lemos Abel, a Seventh-day Adventist nurse, asked the mother to hold her 2-year-old daughter tightly as she gave an injection of penicillin G procaine to treat a bacterial infection.
But the mother didn’t follow the instructions and, when the baby jumped in pain, Maria lost control of the syringe at the state hospital in Nampula, Mozambique’s third-largest city with a population of about half a million people.
The needle jabbed the nurse in her left index finger, drawing blood.
Following hospital policy, Maria immediately ran blood tests on the mother and baby. In 30 minutes, she had the results: both were HIV positive.
Maria began to cry. She had worked with many HIV-positive patients over the years, and she knew that the virus transfers easily through blood.
“Lord, help me not to contract HIV,” she prayed.
A hospital physician instructed Maria to take ARV drugs, which suppress the HIV virus, twice a dayfor the next month. After that, she would have to wait another five months to learn whether she had contracted HIV.
“My heart hurt while I waited,” said Maria, a mother of four. “I didn’t know what would happen.”
She also prayed fervently for God to intervene.
Six months after the accident, Maria’s results came back. They were negative. She had not contracted HIV.
Three years later, in March 2017, a 30-year-old female patient jumped when Maria used a scalpel to make a small incision on her swollen arm. The scalpel cut Maria’s left thumb, drawing blood.
Maria ran a blood test on the patient, and the results came back HIV positive.
Maria wept as she started taking ARV drugs. She prayed as she waited six months to take the HIV test.
“I believed that God would provide a solution through prayer and ARV treatment — just as He had the first time,” she said.
The HIV test came back negative.
“This was not normal,” Maria said. “God Himself was protecting me.”
Maria, 51, shares these two experiences with women hospitalized after sexual assault and recommends a full treatment of ARV drugs and prayer.
“I say, ‘God saved me from something that wasn’t my fault, and He can also save you from something that wasn’t their fault,’” she said.
At least three women have tested negative for HIV after following the advice to take the drugs and pray. Two were sexual assault victims, and the third was a nurse accidentally exposed to HIV at the hospital.
Maria believes that Jesus is protecting her just as He promised in Mark 16:15-18. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” Jesus said. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;theywill take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (NKJV).
“Yes, I believe that,” she said of Jesus’ words.“It is a miracle that I never contracted HIV, and I tell others about the power of prayer and the Lord.”
Maria Lemos Abel praises the Lord for her HIV-negative status. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)
Part of the fourth quarter 2018 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help open an orphanage for children who have lost their parents to HIV and AIDS in Nampula, where Maria works. Thank you for your mission offerings.