Isaac Age: 22 Years Old - Living in a community without any idea about HIV/AIDS
They believed in myths
Isaac, a 22-year-old, lives in Kilifi County. I was born into a community that did not have any idea about HIV/AIDS. They believed in myths, and it was hard to change their minds that HIV is not a death sentence.
After engaging sexually with her, I got flue like symptoms.
I contracted HIV when I was 16, having had unprotected sex with my neighbour living with HIV. I was unaware of her status; I trusted her because she was kind and couldn’t take my eyes off her because of her beauty. Two weeks after engaging sexually with her, I got flue like symptoms. I thought it was something normal, like a common cold, but my health continued to deteriorate as time went by. I googled the symptoms I was experiencing and realized they are similar to HIV, Cancer, and Pneumonia symptoms. So, one day, I requested my cousin to accompany me to the hospital to be seen by the doctor. The doctor recommended I start with an HIV test and to my disbelief, it turned positive.
I walk out of the room where the doctor was seeing me, I could not contain the shock. I shared this with my cousin, who promised not to disclose it to anyone.
I was treated like an animal
I later realised that my cousin had spread the information to my family members and some of my friends. I was treated like an animal and no one came close to me because I was infected. Ignorance prevailed, and no one wanted to touch anything I had previously used. It was definitely a difficult moment to go through. I had reached a point in my life where I hated living.
The adherence counsellor's Affirmation
During my initial clinic day, my adherence counsellor asked me how my life had been, I broke down in tears and expressed the difficulty I was experiencing. I am thankful to the adherence counsellor who encouraged me and gave me hope. He affirmed that I am a fighter and can still live well if I take medicine as prescribed. I was really encouraged and from then, I religiously took my ARVs without fail and attended the comprehensive care clinics (CCC) regularly. I am no longer ashamed to talk about my HIV status.
I hope my story may give hope to other young people who are living with HIV.