We are still facing the consequences of how HIV was first handled. I have reactions like HIV is not a big deal. But if it wasn't a big deal, we wouldn't still be talking about it. Now we have generations of people who have to unlearn information about HIV. That's why a campaign like this is important. Living with HIV is a rollercoaster. Life does not spare you because you are living with HIV. We spend our lives asking people to love us the way we are when we can't do the same for ourselves. Doreen
I grew up with my grandma because my mother and father separated when I was about two months old. I grew up without a close relationship with my mom up till today. I was just with my grandma and my dad. Things changed when I was in class 6, and my dad became abusive and would beat me when he came home drunk. Life wasn’t easy after that. The year I found out I was HIV positive in Form One was the same year my dad sexually violated me. I don’t know why he did that; he was in a lot of pain while I was growing up. I’m J.K, an 18-year-old girl from Kenya, and this is my story.
When I was 16, I started showing symptoms of Tuberculosis. When we went to the hospital to run some tests, we discovered I had both TB and HIV. It hurt. My first reaction was to cry. And the first question I asked the doctor was, “What will others say of me? Where am I going to say I got this?”
J is a young Cameroonian peer educator and clinical mentor for young people living with HIV. Despite his active involvement in the fight against HIV, he prefers to keep his status secret for fear of judgement. J agreed to share his story with us anonymously in the hope that it makes a difference. J's story is the first in a series of five stories young people we shall publish to show how stigma manifests.