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Got infected during Birth -

"I got infected during birth."
It all started when I was in class 8 when I came to realize that I was HIV positive. My mother had passed away some years back. My aunt told me that my mother was HIV positive, and she gave birth to me and passed away months later. She told me that my mother didn't breastfeed me at all and that I got infected during birth.

Leaving home
My aunt struggled to make ends meet because she did not have a permanent job and lost her husband. She had to work extra hard to satisfy her children's and me's needs. She had been taking me to the hospital to get Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), which I used to take daily to fight the virus in the body. Due to the hardships, I had to leave my aunt's home and move to a children's home. I felt uncomfortable because I feared people finding out about my status.

Everybody seemed to get rid of me.
At the children's home, someone saw me taking the drugs. Word spread around that I was HIV positive. I was given a single room to sleep alone while the other children shared a bigger space. I was given my bathroom and utensils, so I could not communicate with the others as they thought I could accidentally infect them with the disease. I had no friends then, and everybody seemed to get rid of me. My attempts to get help from the custodians in the children's home became futile. It reached a time when I could not hold it anymore, and I decided to report all this to the owner of the children's home. 

I took the bull by the horns.
The children's home's owner would visit once every three months. When he came, I went straight to him and opened up about everything I had been going through. He was shocked and, for some minutes, did not utter a word. He fired the three custodians in the children's home and took me to a professional counsellor. After a few sessions, I felt better and happy that someone cared. The other children were educated more on HIV/AIDS to let them know the harm of stigma. I was taken to a different children's home and am happier now.

You are not alone.
I want to encourage anyone facing stigma due to their HIV status to be brave enough to reach out for help. There are always good people out there willing to help you. Be bold and love yourself.


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