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Damaris - 21years - Stigma Living with HIV

"If not for your status, I would have dated you."

My name is Damaris. I had a rule that I must tell the person I was dating the truth about my status. I found out I was HIV positive ten years ago. Life was easy until I decided to date. That is when I realized that stigma is still at its top-notch in Kenya; people are afraid of HIV. People left immediately after I told them I was living with HIV. They all told me:” if not for your status, I would have dated you”. But when I was almost giving up on dating, someone approached me. He loved me to the extent of accepting me even with the virus. But little did I know I was to be an enslaved person in his world.

What I found in Love

He always made me feel he was doing me a favour by dating me. I had to accommodate all he did, including cheating. My hands were tied. Where would I go? I was still young and naive. He would not fail to remind me that he was doing me a favour at the slightest argument. I was never taken out for any dates because he felt I did not deserve him, and people would notice I was HIV positive. We met in the house, got intimate, and he would leave. He always told me they would not accept him if his friends knew he was dating an HIV person. I could tell he was still afraid of me because, all the time, he was extra cautious about every single detail. Was this love? I often questioned myself.

The Break-up

The storm blew in when he told me it was over. I remember he came to my place and told me he was tired of me. I am not even beautiful enough, and I had another "burden" too. He was leaving, and I was devastated. He was the man whom I knew. I went into depression. I stopped taking my drugs because I just felt, ‘What is the use of living if I cannot be happy?’ All this time, I had no one to share this with. I have been trying to navigate through this for one year now. I am better now through constant therapy from the hospital to get my drugs.

The Support

I can proudly say that I have healed from the wounds. People living with HIV: do not let your partner treat you wrong just because of HIV. You deserve better. If they feel that they deserve better, you should let them go. Do not try to force them to stay as I did. It will only hurt more.

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