How quickly HIV changed Yaya's life

Emmanuela Maikem-Manzie
Posted March 18, 2019 from Cameroon

It was on a faithful Saturday when I received a call from Yaya, begging me to come see her because she is not doing ok. I suggested we meet somewhere cool so we can talk while chilling but she insisted I come see her at home because she is so pale and ashamed to leave her home. “What can be wrong that this vibrant young friend of mine can’t leave her home” I asked myself.

I immediately dressed up, rush to her place to find out what this “pale and ashamed to leave the house” was all about. Upon getting to her place I sporadically jumped down the bike i had boarded because I was scared of what I will hear. When I got into the house, one glance at Yaya almost brought down tears from my eyes. The beautiful young and hardworking girl I know is now a shadow of herself. Like an inquisitive kid, I quickly asked her what was going on. She immediately burst into tears which made me more confused. After calming her down, she slowly looked at me with eyes that only showed anger and pain. At this point, my mind was racing to all angles of the world, trying to guess what’s up with Yaya. At this point, she narrated how she had gone to the hospital and was diagnosed with HIV. For a minute there I could not believe it…..in my despair, she explained how she had sex with a man who has been requesting for a relationship for over two years and has been very helpful to her financially. So she finally accepted to date this man and on the first day they had sex, this man denied using a condom saying he doesn’t like using condoms and Yaya accepted, thinking she can trust him. 

Months later Yaya discovered some strange rashes on her but couldn’t imagine it was something this serious. She treated it and was ok for a while till one day she noticed she was getting weaker and weaker with little appetite for food. That was when she decided to visit the hospital again. Only this time, the results will change her whole life.

Yaya is a young business woman who is barely keeping her small shop open due to the current armed conflict in the North West region of Cameroon. She lives with a relative who now treats her like an outcast and doesn’t care if Yaya feeds or not. This relative of hers even locks the kitchen when going out of the house. She tells Yaya that people in the neighborhood are gossiping about her. As if that’s not enough, she tells Yaya that with her current status she will not find a man out there that will marry her, except it’s a man she meets at the HIV unit at the hospital where Yaya collects her antiretroviral. Few months back, before all this they were like best of friends and told each other every tiny secret as ladies.

With that, I became angry not only with her relative for treating her that way but with myself too, for not having checked on my friend for a while who almost committed suicide after getting such treatment from her own relative.

This is a young vibrant girl who had so many plans for her future and her only fault was trusting a man who she thought was her guardian angel from heaven, whereas he is from hell. All Yaya thinks of now is what her other family members and friends will say when they hear this. She barely leaves her home now because she thinks every prying eye is looking deep into her soul to judge her.

Yaya is so full of regret and wish she had refused dating this man.

This got me thinking, why will young struggling girls feel obliged to date a man or have sex with him because he has been helping financially and not protect themselves? Why will men think its ok to infect vulnerable girls because they feel indebted to them?

Women have the right to make decisions about their bodies, be it sex, child birth among others.

Maikem Emmanuela Manzie

Change starts with a story.
This story was submitted in response to Change Starts With a Story.

Comments 17

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Jill Langhus
Mar 18
Mar 18

Hi Emmanuela,

Welcome to World Pulse:-) Thanks so much for sharing your sad story about Yaya. Is she getting medical attention, and will she be okay? She doesn't sound like she's doing very well. It's very unfortunate that she only has you now to help support her. And, yes, women do have this right, and collectively we need to be taught early on in our lives that we have this right.

Please keep us posted on poor Yaya's progress. Perhaps she would like to join World Pulse so she can get even more love and support. I'm sure we can at least give that to her.

Hope you're having a good, and safe day, dear. Looking forward to seeing more stories from you and learning more about what you're passionate about.

Hello Jlanghus
Thank you for the welcome. I have arranged for her to get counseling and i pray she learns to accept her status and she has promised never to skip her medication. I will take to her if she can join us here. Thank you for reading. More young girls need to educated on this so they can make informed choices about their sexual activity.
Have a great day.

Jill Langhus
Mar 18
Mar 18

Hello there:-)

You're very welcome, dear.

Oh, that's sounds very good. Good thing she has you!

That's awesome that you will talk to her about joining WP.

I agree. Do you have a vision on how to educate more girls/women and to empower them?

Thank you!

Thank you.
For now, i do organize interactive radio programs where such topics are being discussed by professionals and other activists.
If you have any suggestions, i will be glad to hear them.

Jill Langhus
Mar 18
Mar 18

You're welcome:-)

Oh, that sounds great. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it! Hmm. I always have ideas. I will think about it.

Have you looked on the World Pulse "community" page to see about collaborating with other women in your area who are passionate about the same thing? This is the link: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/my-pulse/community

I will look into it while waiting for your ideas.

Jill Langhus
Mar 19
Mar 19

So, yes, the radio programs sound great, but perhaps in conjunction, or in addition to those, you could also have regional workshops increasing awareness on SRHR and empowerment. I would definitely encourage you to reach out to Sally. This is Sally's forte and you and her could collaborate to help even more girls and women. This is Sally's profile where you can read more about her, what she does and also to private message her: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/masaliens.

Please keep us posted on your progress and any collaborations and we would love to hear it! Good luck:-)

Thank you so much. i will definitely contact her. Will keep you updated on the outcome.
Stay blessed

Jill Langhus
Mar 20
Mar 20

You're very welcome:-) Great! Looking forward to it!

Bettina Amendi
Mar 18
Mar 18

Hi Emmanuela,
You are welcome to World Pulse.Thank you for sharing about Yaya.Keep us posted.Good day.

Moforyan Lydienne
Mar 18
Mar 18

Wow quiet a heart wrenching story... Poverty is really à bitch cos Yaya's situation stems from the fact that she wasnt financially indépendant. As women it's double hard on our side to face up with the sociétal expections Of wife, sister, mother and taking care Of ourselves. Thats why I appréciate forums like World pulse as it permits us women to share our challenges and get love and support from fellow women.
Keep up the good work Emmanuelle, Yaya will be fine having someone like u beside her. God bless u.

it's really heartbreaking dear. We really need to educate and empower our girls to know how to protect themselves. Facing the world as women is difficult enough, we don't need such men to add more of these problems.
God bless you too

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 20
Mar 20

Hi Emmanuela,
Welcome to World Pulse. This is a heartbreaking story and also a story that shows how important it is that as women we support each other. What a difference you are making to your friend at this awful time in her life. I fully agree, women have the right to make decisions about our bodies and our lives. The shame here belongs with this man who was so reckless and selfish. The blame also lies with our societies that always blame women, and neglect demanding responsibility from men who act as this man did. You are so right to question why women are in the vulnerable position we so often are, having to look for financial support from men, and to feel such pressure to do what they want. I add to Jill's thought to suggest Yaya become a member and find support here, that this is a great idea.

Hello Tam
Thank you for the warm welcome. I will try to talk to Yaya to join us here for more support. For now, she is doing ok. We have to do more to empower women so they can attain some level of financial stability and stop relying on men. Hope we can work together in the days ahead.

Corine Milano
Apr 11
Apr 11

Emmanuella, thank you for introducing us to Yaya and for sharing her story with us. I do hope she will join World Pulse and find some support here. I know we have members who are also HIV+ and thriving, due to adherence to their medication regimens. I hope her access to care and medication is not at risk now due to the conflict in Cameroon. Thank you for speaking out here and for shining light on this all too common occurrence. Education, economics, violence, stigma, and health are such interconnected issues. I hope you'll come back and share more about Yaya, your own life, and what is happening in Cameroon.

Hello Corine
Thank you for reading and commenting. Yaya has access to her medication and she is improving too. I hope we can work together to shine the light on these issues.

Corine Milano
May 06
May 06

I am glad to hear that, Emmanuela, thank you for writing back! <3