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STI and stigma- Vivi 18

I had big dreams, and nothing could stop me.

Since I was a teenager, I had big dreams, and nothing could stop me from pursuing them. Life was great; I had many friends, my academics were great, my body was changing, and I was all for it. I also had a boyfriend, and I could feel the envy burn in other neighbourhood girls’ eyes.

Something was wrong; I could feel it.

One afternoon during my regular visit to my boyfriend, something unexpected happened. We had unprotected sex, and after a few days, my private part began feeling itchy and in pain. I immediately suspected I had contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI). I felt scared and confused because of the stigma and taboos surrounding it in our town. What would people think of me if they knew I had an STI?

Decided to go get tested

However, I decided to face my fears and take control of my life. I learned about the symptoms of various STIs and the importance of getting tested. With newfound courage, I went to a clinic to get tested. The nurse there was kind and supportive, assuring me I was not alone. After the test, I anxiously waited for the results. I was told to wait a while for the tests to return, and I sat outside, very anxious and with a heavy heart.

I hit rock bottom and bounced.

The waiting period felt like an eternity. ‘’Vivi!’’ I heard the nurse call; I rushed back in, where I was informed that I had contracted Gonorrhea. Time stood still, my vision blurred, and I could feel the tears dripping down my face. I composed myself, and the doctor informed me that with medication, I would heal and my health would be restored. That day began my healing journey and my mission to inspire others.

My life changed but for the better.

I confronted my boyfriend, and we decided to part ways since he confessed to having multiple partners, and I did not want to put my health at risk. I shared my story with my friend; surprisingly, she had gone through something similar. We discovered that for young people, seeking professional help is sometimes hindered by the stigma and judgement that people face when people discover they have had an STI. We decided to join an organization in our community to help people who have been through the same and to educate people about safe sex and seeking medical help. Young people began to open up about their experiences and even with some resistance from some people, they came out to share and learn from our gatherings.

So to whoever is reading this, do not let people’s judgement stop you from seeking help whenever needed.


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