James: Born with HIV
Born with HIV
I was born with HIV, and taking my ARVs has always reminded me that I am HIV positive. At first, it was very hard and it even hurt to take these pills, but with time it got easier and more manageable as I grew older. This is my story, my name is James and I am twenty-four years old from Mombasa county with a life experience I would like to share.
“I could never bring myself to tell them about my status”
When I joined boarding school, I had to be on a special diet because I needed to take my daily drugs. Healthy eating is important for anyone who is on medication, including those who are HIV-positive. My classmates always wondered why my food was different and they always asked what was wrong with me, but I could never bring myself to tell them about my status. I feared that they would judge me and treat me badly, and this was because I had heard negative stories of how people with HIV get treated by people around them.
Eventually, my classmates got to know about my HIV status. This was the beginning of my troubles. In the dormitories, my bed was pushed to the furthest corner so that I am not in close contact with any of my classmates and in the dining hall, I was constantly pushed out of the lines we stood in as we waited to get our lunch served. These incidents became more and more and I could not bear it anymore. My life was very affected and my grades rapidly declined, and so did my self-esteem and confidence. I had to transfer to another school. It was not a boarding school and I could go home every evening.
Bouncing back and living life
My mother, who is a single mom knew all these things that were happening to me. She really supported me through all the hardship I was going through. She gave me so much hope and with time, my performance in school improved and I did so well in my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations, which led me to get direct admission to the university where I chose to pursue a degree in counselling. My message to everyone is that HIV is not a curse and most people who are infected can live a happy and healthy life as long as they take their medication well, eat healthily and generally care for their physical and mental well-being.