I will visit you this afternoon when you knock off from work, those were the last words that my late cousin spoke to me on the phone.
Despite her deteriorating state of health, she loved family and could bring and connect family together. Her jovial and friendly manner would bring people closer to her. She was in her early 40thand had one child.
Indeed she was more than my cousin but a friend. We shared a lot but little did I know she was hiding the most vital thing from me. May be I would have been of help to her, had she confided in me earlier.
Everyone thought she had bronchiolitis or asthma. Despite encouraging her to do anx-ray she would always say she do get well when she takes antibiotics. But her cough was so tense and she would go on and on coughing ,It was through persistence and insistence that eventually she took an x-ray.
She actually had tuberculosis.
Soon she was commenced on TB treatment; she actually told me that she was once on the same treatment but I suspect something went wrong and didn’t complete her treatment. It wasactually TB relapse.
it was during one ofher visit that I discovered something that caught my eyes. I asked her if at all she had done her HIV testing, she mentioned that she did but the results always came out negative.
I failed to understand her, I couldn’t believe she do be hiding such an issue from me,I had actually read it with my eyes.
I clearly understood the medical abbreviation written in her book.
Duringone of her visits,She had given me the book to help her write the dates for her TBinjections.
The doctor’s notes read, she was hiv positive and was only on septrine, had not started the ARV treatment.
That night I thought a lot, but why would she be hiding such from me,a close friend, I made up my mind,especially looking at her worsening state,I do talk to her point blake.
The following day she visited, I sat her down, I narrated to her how people have made it in life even in their conditions such as Hiv, eventually I disclosed to her that as a health worker I fully understood the abbreviation in her clinic book and knew her status. I counseled her and encouraged her to accept her Hiv status and start living a positive life. But my efforts were in vain as she never fully acknowledged her status. I encouraged her to do a cd4 count,she accepted that she would do it.
I further explained to her that I could help her if she will be willing,
I have worked before for any hiv organization and I would have done every possible to help her.
To day as a write this, if only I had known earlier ,maybe I would have helped her live a positive and fruitful life.
My experience with my cousin , has got me thinking;
And I have come to realize that Hundreds if not thousands of peple die in silence because,they refuse to share their status with other who would stand up to assist them.
Stigma is there and will always be there but no one wishes to be found with the virus that causes Aids, Any one at any time might acquire it through various means, cause its not just through promiscuous ways that it is acquired.Imagine those born with it.
Self stigma which leads to unacceptance of one”status has leadto thousands of death.
While others are quick to accept but hundreds especially women who had only one boyfriend or have only known one man their husbands,been found positive will always sound like a death sentence.
Other because their lives has been on the quite life find it very difficulty to disclose,because they are very worried about what others would say especially their family.
Like here in my country, Hiv drugs are provided free of charge but because of fear to be seen or known many Hiv people neglect such services.Hence it is very important that HIV and stigma continue been preached on a daily basis.
Will really miss her,til we meet again.