HIV and Me… All in the name of finding a cure what I did.
I diagnosed myself in 2000, but at that time there was no public information about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). My whole world broke into a million pieces and at that time I had no idea whatsoever about the virus.
I only did the test because I was the one assigned to conduct the test for pregnant mothers who came for antenatal clinic. I was an employee to a private lab and the lab work in conjunction with the private hospital. Within a short period I had 28 pregnant women test positive for HIV and the hospital just referred them to a government hospital because that was the only place they could get more information and treatment. Some of these women never come back to the clinic again and some came back with HIV-positive babies. I was so scared and confused then because I truly did not have a cloud what the virus was all about.
After testing myself I convinced myself again that the test kit was a fake one and I was silent for a whole year, but it was eating me up gradually. I started getting very angry with every little thing around me and was almost getting violent with anyone who get on my nerves.
Then in 2002 I took another test and behold it was positive again. Now, Bose, what do you do? That was the question I asked myself: what do you do? I convinced myself that I, Abosede, could find a cure to the virus.
What I did next is something I will never try again in my life and I advise you, anyone out there, never to try such a thing because you might not have the grace from God to survive it, like I did. This is what I did: I got chlorine bleach (for removing stain from white cloth), liquid for cleaning injuries and cuts, aloe Vera gel from my compound, dextral, saline water (known for infusion). I created a syringe and was injecting this deadly substance into my vein.
I started this on the 22nd, 23rd and 25th of September 2002. I tried not to inject myself on the 24th but what happened after injecting those substance into my body on the 25th is a story I am privileged to share today. It was a very sad one for that matter because I would have died that very day if not for God's mercy and love that He shown upon my soul. In less than five minutes after injecting the deadly substance, I started having rigors, I was shaking like a person with high fever and I could not speak out - my teeth were chattering. I managed to call a little peer teen girl to stay in the lab. I told her that I was very sick and needed to go home. I closed the inner door to the main lab so she stayed at the reception.
I went home and my late mother saw me; andshe was shocked at seeing me like that. She asked, "What is wrong with you Bose?" I told her that I had malaria and that I gave myself gentamicin injection. She was so upset with me she screamed at me. Her next question was, "Are you a nurse or a doctor? That you have just killed yourself!" At that point I was having this terrible pain in my brain and bone marrow, my back bone was like they were drilling some iron down to my waist. She called a bike man known here as Okada to help carry me to the hospital where I was stationed to work. Before this she gave me a pain killer but before you know it I was stooling and vomiting greenish substance and I was slowly passing out. She came back into the room and found me so cold. My hands and feet were so cold that she ran out to get our neighbors, one of them had a car, so I was rushed to the hospital.
The only thing I remember saying is that I am dying and that my mum should please forgive me. I told her to kindly help me take good care of my six year old son because I was a single parent then and my parents were separated from each other when I was sixteen years old. I told her that I would love to see my elder brother and my immediate younger brother to tell them what I did to myself, and I sang two songs - one in Yoruba language that says "Because God did it, His mercy endures forever" and the other song "He owns the keys to my life when sickness and troubles came to take my soul always Jesus own the keys to my life". And she was just shouting me down and all I could hear at that point was echo from all of their voices, just echos…….
I was brought into the hospital and my mum told them that I had been stooling and vomiting. They administered an infusion by one of the nurses on duty and immediately my heart was burning like there was a fire in my heart and I screamed in pain and strongly tried to remove the line from my body.
But I survived that day and I told the doctor who owned the hospital that I have HIV and he could not believe me. I also told my elder brother. He too said it was a wrong test result; I was this thin because I don't eat well. My brother told me to come to the church where he worships and see a person who works for an NGO that talks about this HIV and that is how my work with the NGO began. The doctor in charge of the clinic became my mentor, manager and my supervisor.
Since then I have become an advocate and activist to treatment access and also a home base care provider. I have been a member of a community review panel (CRP) for International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPCT) West Africa for six years and also a steering committee for ABBVIE. I am the Global Ambassador to The Well Project and also a member of The Well Project Community Advisory Board (CAB). I am the national financial coordinator of the Treatment Action Movement of Nigeria (TAM).
Sixteen year ago today… It is a journey I live to remember, so let's wait for a cure. I believe there is a cure out there.