This is my true life story with HIV that I would like to share with you.
My mom died of HIV in 1993 when I was just three years old and my dad too died of HIV when I was just eight years old in 1998, so I was left an orphan since. I'm the last born in our family of like ten children. I was the only child that was born with HIV; the rest are OK.
As I write this tears are rolling in my eyes whenever I remember what I went through when my parents died. I was left in the hands of my stepmom who later also passed on of the same virus in 2001. Then I went and stayed with my big sister who was married. Remember, by then there was treatment for HIV in the late 90's, but people used to die of the disease a lot in Africa. But thank God me I survived up to now when the treatment is available.
I know most of you will ask me how I managed to live up to now. The answer is Lord was by my side. I don't know how but for real, then there was no treatment for HIV in Africa.
Dear ones remember I was not told that I was HIV positive until 2007 when I found out by myself. My sister feared that if she would tell me I would not study, commit suicide, stigma, etc. I was not on medication but I was looking healthy like any other child, I used to fall sick like any other child and I would be treated and get cured like any other HIV negative child. I had no signs and symptoms of HIV so that made me think that I didn't have the virus. But what I remember is malaria, cough, and flu disturbed me a lot. But because they were on and off, that didn't worry me or make me think I am affected.
It was in 2007 during my vacation of ordinary level that is form four that I got a strong fever called meningitis. That was almost killing me but thank God I was treated and cured from it. Still my sisters could not tell me about the disease until I found it out myself. How??? One day my sister was away from home and I was left to keep the home so I was looking for something in her room which I don't remember. Then I came across my medical reports indicating I'm HIV positive. My brethren I was terrified, my heart sank and I almost lost my senses for a while because of what I had seen. Immediately I started asking myself questions. I'm a virgin, I have never had any blood transfusion. How is it that I'm HIV positive???
I remember it was lunch time. I lost my appetite. I remember that day my food was TEARS. I wailed until my sister returned home. She saw my eyes swollen and asked me the matter?? I remember telling her nothing. After some days I told her I want to test for HIV and she asked me why. I told her still nothing, I just want to know my status. She told me, you are fine. I looked at her with a solemn face and I rushed to my room, came back with the medical reports of mine I got from her room and surprised her with them. I remember she was shocked and she asked me where I had got them. I asked her, “Are these results true??” She told me yes. We both burst into tears and she comforted me. She told me everything as it was and later she told me to start the therapy but I didn't agree with her. I remember telling myself “I'm OK, why take the daily pills?” not knowing I was putting my life in danger. Years went on, me not on the therapy since I was still looking healthy so I even decided to fall in love.
I got myself a fiancé but I didn't tell him I am affected since I never wanted to lose him. Since both of us were virgins, we decided to have unprotected sex several times. But thank God I didn't affect him because he tested in many big hospitals and all the results were negative. I decided to quit the relationship because I didn't want to affect him since he survived the previous one. I'm happy now he is a happily married man.
When did I get on the treatment? Here we go. It was last year when I fell sick, seriously sick. I knew what was paining me but still I could believe myself. Since I couldn't afford the private hospital, I was taken to government hospital where HIV treatment is free. Since I'm an orphan money was not there to support me in a private hospital. There is where I was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. Again this was a horrible thing in life since my immunity had gone down with CD4 count of only 101. I was put on treatment immediately. Sisters and brothers, this is the hardest thing. TB treatment is harsh, more than HIV treatment. I was first put on TB treatment then later I began HIV therapy but by God I was cured and given a certificate of discharge on TB. Then I was left on HIV therapy which is a lifetime treatment. And right now I'm on ATRIPLA and daily Septrin.
Things that have kept me alive is making sure I don't miss my daily pills and doctors' appointment.
I want to thank the most beautiful lady in the world - that is Maria Mejia - for mentoring me. She has also been part of my life with her encouraging videos and posts. Hola Maria!
Why Ugandan Princess wants to be part of A Girl Like Me: I want to encourage women to come out of the darkness like that I was in. To give hope to hopeless. I also want to be an international advocate/activist like Maria, Broadbent, Brenda to help fight for people living with HIV. One of my biggest dreams is to meet Dawn Averitt, the founder of The Well Project and also Maria Mejia
Each time I read a story I stop breathing and wonder how one can experience so much pain and have the courage to advocate for others.
Your story is so different and heart reaching to my heart to hear. You are a strong woman and welcome to the world of advocacy. The sky is the limit forcus on telling your story with a purpose and the international stage a breather away.