There is still life after being diagnosed with HIV
Discrimination and stigma are other causes of new HIV infections
Today I openly live with my HIV status but this started as a rough patch to walk on while I was younger.
I needed shoulders to cry on like anybody would if they were in my shoes. But that did not turn out so good because I wanted so much from people who could not give me that much which I could not offer to myself because I was vulnerable.
I had friends and I remember very clearly that it was after my matric exams taking a gap year, it was then that I felt the need of being a true friend to them and I disclosed my status.
They seemed to understand on my situation but later mocked me with their other friends that I was HIV positive.
One of them even approached me telling me I could sue people who were talking about my status without my consent. But she was of no difference from the rest of them.
I remember one day they were walking in a group and when they saw me they laughed their lungs out and called me an AIDs girl. Needless to say I was very hurt and furious. What I did not realise at the time was by not openly talking about my status I was actually delaying my own soul from healing and making peace with it.
I then took a move and opened up about my status, and people thought that HIV would kill me but it did not. Through the pain of stigmatisation and discrimination I carved a way out.
So, I am saying discrimination can be one of the most challenging issues while dealing with HIV because people expect you to change once you say you are HIV positive.
They expect to see you looking sickly and unhealthy. They expect you to become abnormal just because you are taking a pill daily.
What they are not aware of is that people handle situations differently. I can go through humiliation and come out stronger than before. But there are people who cannot cope.
They can give up adhering to their medication and default from their treatment because of stigma, and that is a big red flag because when a person has not reached viral suppression she can infect others easily.
I want to state these facts to help other people who lack knowledge about HIV; people who have the knowledge but are arrogant; people who are living with HIV because I care about your lives.
When you are living with HIV, never mind what people say about you. It your life after all and you are the only person who is responsible for it. It is your road and others may walk it with you but no one can walk it for you.