By Kattey Kattey
Cassie is a beautiful lady in her mid twenties, who has just concluded her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Getting to this point in her career has not been the easiest thing. She lost her father when she was ten, and her mother went through hell providing for her and her three younger siblings. When she gained admission into the University, she was forced to use ‘her beauty’ to get funds for her tuition and upkeep. She sold sex to several men; she preferred going unprotected because her clients paid her more for that. Years down the line, towards the end of her NYSC, she fell ill, got tested and was confirmed HIV positive. Today, she’s on anti-retroviral drugs and looks as healthy and beautiful as ever.
Cath grew up in a strict Christian home with great moral values. She got born again at the age of thirteen. While an undergraduate, she was a leader in departmental and religious groups. She was described as a ‘wife material’ by most who knew her. Her parents were proud of her, and so were her teachers, pastors and mentors. She swore to remain a virgin until her wedding night; a vow which she kept amidst pressure from ‘believing and unbelieving brothers’. She eventually got married to Pete, a committed Christian, rich and educated. During her first ante-natal visit for her first pregnancy, she was found to be HIV positive; she was infected by her husband who probably contracted the virus before knowing her. Presently, they have three children who are all HIV negative. She and her husband are now on medications for 8 years.
These three persons have different background stories, but one of the things that connect them is that they are better than the millions of people who do not know their status, and are not taking drugs for HIV. They are also potential victims of stigmatization and discrimination because of their HIV status. These stories, though fictional, represent the stories of thousands we see everyday. HIV is preventable; HIV does not always kill its victims; people living with HIV/AIDS need your love and support.
Do not always assume that all HIV victims lived ‘irresponsible and immoral lives’. Stop the stigmatization and discrimination.
Kattey Kattey is a public health physician and an alumnus of the University of Port Harcourt and the Johns Hopkins University. He is passionate about reaching out to people where ever they are. He is a Christian, practicing doctor and a mentor to many. He is happily married to his friend and they are blessed with children. Travelling, teaching and writing are his hobbies.