In a society where the man is always the boss and has a final word on everything, how do you disclose to him of your sero-positive status? Do you tell him of your HIV status only for him to blame you of infecting or trying to kill him and even beating you or throwing you out of his house? Do you keep quiet and suffer in silence knowing you were just a sitting duck who was infected by the one you trusted the most? What would you do?
Disclosure has not always been easy and often people living with HIV have opted to keep the news of their status to themselves because they fear stigma and discrimination which emanates from themselves and the society. They are afraid of rejection, ridicule and of being ostracised especially because of the myths and misconceptions associated with the condition.
Millicent Akinyi is a new mother who gave birth 3 weeks ago to a lovely and healthy baby boy. She is HIV positive! Last year during a clinic visit she was tested and told of her status and was immediately put on PMTCT care/therapy. She was overwhelmed as she was carrying her husband’s baby and she outrightly knew that her husband had infected her because of his wayward behaviour. She had come into the relation with two children of her own while her husband had four children, from two previous relationships. His first wife had died and he chased his second wife because she was a “prostitute” or so he claims and left him with the children.
Millicent is a housewife and her husband is very protective and jealous and a “typical African man”, his word is law and he cannot be questioned.
Millicent carried the burden of her secret alone and she hid her medicines from her husband as she was determined to have a HIV negative baby which she knew was possible if she adhered to the later. Three weeks ago, she gave birth to her son at a local health centre in Otiende, but she still kept her secret within her.
Meanwhile, her husband’s health had deteriorated drastically, he had TB-like symptoms and constant diarrhoea and he self-prescribed himself with malaria which never ended. His wife seeing an oportune moment to disclose took him to the Drop In Centre for treatment. The Centre has a clinic which besides dealing with the Most at Risk Population has a TB diagnostic and treatment clinic. At the Centre he was counseled and tested while his wife and child waited for him outside. On seeing his results he asked for “the woman with a child, waiting outside”, to come in and join him.
“Now I have been tested and I have the virus, and you should also be tested too because you are my wife, understood?” He addressed her
“I understand,” the wife answered.
“Even though our status has changed, there is no problem because people are now living with the virus. We’ll just do what the doctor tells us and everything will be fine”
And though she already knew her status she consented to be counseled and tested again for the sake of her husband after which, she confessed that the burden she had carried for so many a days had finally been lifted, and now she was a free woman looking forward to tomorrow with more faith and hope.