I AM NOT THE VIRUS, IT ONLY LIVES IN ME
Peer education program brought us together. She is a caring and understanding young lady whose main objective is empowering young women and youths living with HIV virus. I kept wondering why she majored on HIV and not any other topic. HIV /AIDs has always been a monster among our people with those infected facing a lot of challenges and stigmatization. I envy her courage and self esteem in talking about her story. It’s painful yes but worth sharing.
“Am Winnie Goretty, a 21 years old from Homabay county but currently residing in Kisumu County. I Am a HIV activist who is also HIV positive and am currently creating awareness through my story. I was born in Homabay County and lost my parents at a very young age.
I was defiled at the age of 7 years and that is how I lived with the virus for 14years without knowing.
I got tested at the age of 13 when I was in class eight and was approaching my final exams in primary school.
My world came crumbling when the result turned out to be positive.
I remained in denial and the only thing I could do was to cry. This ended up affecting my academic progress.
After my KCPE, I joined a mixed day secondary school in Kisumu County. Schooling was not smooth because of the opportunistic diseases.
I went to the hospital, got tested again, and the result was the same but again I never accepted the result.
My condition was getting worse in second term and I had to make decision to start medication.
Everything was okay until some of my classmates knew I was on medication and started spreading the information with everyone else. This really affected my self-esteem. My days and nights were so boring, having no friend to associate with. I experienced different forms of stigma in school but I was strong enough to overcome all of them.
After my KCSE I decide to come out in order to change lives through my story.
I have been doing this through creating awareness via media, in schools and community groups. So far, I have managed to visit seven radio stations, 8 schools and one television, telling them that being HIV positive is not a life sentence but a condition one can manage. Remember HIV does not kill but STIGMA does.”
Very many young people are living with HIV virus and are afraid to come out and seek medication and this increases their viral load. It is important for each person to know their status and seek proper guidance.