The Nation News site, just felt like sharing it with you, Read the full story below; Is this True Love or Madness ? Sure it is Love in its Purest Form....
I first got to know about my HIV status in 2005. I had taken seriously ill after delivering my first daughter, who by the way was negative. So I was asked to do an HIV test, to which I tested positive. Of course there was a lot of stigma and discrimination at that time, but the good thing was that I had a family that supported me. They gave me all the love and support I needed. My husband at the time, however, did not support me, because he was negative. He accused me of promiscuity. At that time, you were always going to be accused of promiscuity, but I have really never been able to figure out how I got the virus.
Along the line, I met and got married to somebody else who was negative and knew of my HIV status well before we started the relationship. And today, we have a child who is free from the virus.
Immediately my second husband started making overtures at me, I told him that I was HIV positive and if he was ready to go the long haul. But his reaction was that being HIV positive wasn’t the end of the world. ‘You’re intelligent and I believe you can add value to my life.’ Interestingly, telling him about my HIV status turned out to be a major attraction. He said he had never seen any woman with that kind of courage. But basically, it was love.
However, his family is not aware of my status, and we agreed to keep it that way, to avoid unnecessary issues.
End of the world?
Of course it felt like the end of the world. You know then it was like a death sentence. Once you test positive, people think that you’re going to die in another two or three days. I actually felt like that too; and I was therefore thinking: ‘Who would take care of my child when I’d passed on? Am I going to live? I even thought of suicide. I thought, ‘Do I just kill myself?”A lot of negative stuff came into my mind then.
But all that changed when I went to the hospital and saw other people living with the virus, and looking good and well. In fact, I got the encouragement to live from them. And that gingered me to join the support group and also counsel women that it is not the end of the world. We also passed the message onto those who find themselves in the situation anew. And for those who are pregnant, we let them know that, ‘Hey, you can still have babies who are HIV negative; if you take your drugs regularly and follow the doctors instruction on the usage of the drug, your viral load will get to that zero level, where chances of mother to child infection is very slim.’
The good news is that once you start taking the ARV drugs, the risk of deteriorating to that dreaded AIDS level is remote, except for the fact that the drug itself, like the doctors tell us, can have side effects. Aside the fact that it can keep the virus in check, it can also damage some body organs and make the person come down with AIDS. So it’s not as if it is 100 percent safe. But it suppresses the power of the virus and also increases the CD4 counts.
The truth is stigmatisation still happens. People still withdraw into their shells, the moment they become aware of your status. But at the end of the day, we are all human beings. But self-stigmatisation is the biggest one that we are facing today, although a lot of efforts, campaign and support is going on. Government is really doing great to support people living with HIV/AIDS. Ordinarily there is no difference between you and me. The only difference is that there is a virus in me that I have to take a drug for. But I know people who are hypertensive, who are also on drugs; people who are diabetic, who are also on drugs for the rest of their lives.
Message to the youths
HIV is real and the mode of contraction is still mostly through sexual intercourse. So recklessness or I-don’t-care attitude will only put you in danger. You may be at that youthful stage when life can be very interesting, but be careful and protect yourself. Life has no duplicate. It is not easy living with the virus. Of course, everyone is going to die, but living with the virus always makes you think that somehow, you are going to die. Neither is it easy taking the drugs, which would have to be every day for life. I was not a drug person initially, but once I realised it was my only chance of staying alive, I accept my fate and began taking it regularly. I had worked with Medicine Sans Frontier before and seen people die for not taking the drugs. And since I’m not ready to go down that same way, I have set an alarm; in fact, my brain has become an alarm: once it is time to take the drug, something just triggers in me.
Association of Women Living with HIV
Our main vision is to ensure that women living with HIV/AIDS live a healthy and fulfilled life. We have this forum, where we make sure that members have and use their drugs as at when due; we also try to make sure that members are empowered through skill acquisition, so that they can earn income, because you must be happy, eat adequately, take your drugs regularly and provide your basic needs. Our association is also out to ensure that justice and equity is ensured, because you find out that some of the men are not helping matters. I was at a clinic one day and I had the opportunity to assist in the registration area and I had this interaction with a man who told me that he has two wives and both of them are not aware that he is HIV positive. So he has already infected them, and to now come out and take responsibility is difficult. He actually confessed that he married one of them, a virgin. And yet he couldn’t do her the favour of telling her before marrying her! Call that wickedness and you’d be right on point. And we’ve had several other cases of men who, because they thought they got the virus from a woman, have sworn to spread it to as many women as come their way. But that is not right. If you try to spread it, you can also contract another type of virus called HIV II and other more deadly diseases. Towards this end, the government is trying to put in place a disclosure mechanism, whereby anyone who is found guilty of such act will be prosecuted and punished by the law.