I Was Shocked When I Was Told I Have HIV
That was a quote from an interview with Elizabeth Matambanadzo, 18, from Zimbabwe, who is living with HIV. My hope is that, this will help all of us to become more accepting of people living with the HIV condition.
In most of our societies, it is commonly assumed that the person living with HIV or AIDS is just paying the price for his or her promiscuous lifestyle. The truth is there millions of people living with HIV for no fault of theirs. And there are millions more who have HIV for doing the same thing you and I do daily. Is it not time that we accept them as people and not just as ‘deserving patients ”?
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon once said:
“Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.”
Let Elizabeth continue:
“My mother passed away when I was five and my father when I was 10. I have been staying with my grandmother since then. I tested HIV positive in 2008 when I was 16 after being sick for a long time. I developed sores all over my body that wouldn’t heal even after taking medicine. My grandmother and I were always in and out of hospital. I missed a lot of school. At first doctors thought I had diabetes since the sores were not healing.
“After the diabetes test came back negative the doctor recommended an HIV test. At first my grandmother was against the idea but after some time she agreed. I was shocked when the result came back positive because I had never had sex. My grandmother cried too, she was very sad but the doctor explained that I may have been born HIV positive. I was very angry and blamed my parents for giving me this disease. I was immediately put on antiretroviral drugs [ARVs] and my sores healed… I feel very strong and healthy… all I want is to continue helping other people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS in my community.”
It is as difficult to fight the stigma and stereotypes associated as it is to fight the virus. I plan to write on the evil of stigmatization and its social consequences soon. Please check back
Thanks for reading and please pass it on.