As a young woman living with HIV I have this to say: It has had a big impact on my life. At first I did not understand what HIV is, all I heard of it was a very bad killing virus and I thought I was going to die that time, but years were just passing and I looked fresh and healthy, until I got to know that with it you can still live longer.
Sometimes back then I used to hate people and blame them a lot, especially people who were around me when I use to be raped and get this HIV as a small girl. But later living with my HIV gave me strength to forgive the people and live with them as a family again.
It was not easy and it is not easy to live with HIV but I am proud of having it because it made me a strong young woman. It has changed me into a strong young woman who value all the people infected and affected ones by HIV. I become a caring and loving lady everywhere I go, especially in my community, trying to give information to them and know how to live with it, all that because I do not want any young girl to suffer in my way — it’s painful.
HIV has killed my mum, dad, big sister, uncles and aunties, but it made me who I am today. An orphan, but strong.
Yes, I am living with it but I am beautiful and a strong young woman who is not scared of facing anything good or bad today. In 2003, I fall pregnant and give birth to a baby boy who is HIV NEGATIVE and that makes me a proud mother. It makes me value all the young positive mothers in the world. HIV made me see that you can still have a good job, a good family, and kids.
As a young woman living with HIV, I want all the young woman to hold hands and support each other. For those who are infected like me, please tell yourself that you are beautiful and believe in yourself. To the young woman who are NOT infected, girls please love us, take care of us. We need your support. I feel and believe that with HIV you can live longer than you think, myself I never knew if I would get to 2009 and now it is 2013. If people around you make you feel that you are a valuable person.
I want to remind all of you that this is my true story. I am now 27 years old and I was told that I have HIV in 1998. It’s been many years now and if you see me, you can’t believe only if I tell you. 2004 when my mum died I suffered a bit but I got a chance of picking myself up and do volunteer work in my community. It keeps me going and I love it.
It is very important to understand and live a positive life. I am a mother of a 7 year-old boy and a big sister of 2 and an orphan. Imagine has this been easy for me? No! But with the support and believing in myself I am here. I respect, love, and care for HIV-affected people. I have overcome challenges in my life of stigma and discrimination.
Adapted from my post on www.amplifyyourvoice.org.