This is a story as narrated by Mary, a resident of Kisumu City, who despite her tender age, and being HIV positive, has vowed to live a full life, no matter the stigmatization and hurdles on her way.
Mary, has been nominated to represent the young people of Kenya in the upcoming International AIDS Conference in Durban South Africa, mid this month.
We met her at the recently held World Social Media day celebrations in Kisumu, and she didn’t shy sharing her life story with the audience. Despite the odds, at that young and tender age, she is beaming with hopes for a better and brighter future for all young children in Kenya and around the world.
Even as she plans to attend the conference, I would like to ask the rest of us to keep her in our prayers as she takes this journey and even in the the upcoming conference.
If there’s any word of advice, support that you can give her, please get in touch with us and we shall link you with her.
This below is her own narration, that won her the chance to attend the international conference:
My name is Mary Hope, a 18 year old young woman from Kisumu Kenya. My mum realised I was HIV positive when I was about a month old, she disclosed my status to me when I was 8 years old at class four. She did this because I kept asking why I was taking septrin every morning.
From that day I knew my status, I have had so many experiences like when I was told my status I told my class teacher about it.she supported me in school and helped me a lot like whenever I had to go to the clinic for my medication, she allowed me to go and would occasionally check on me to ask my health. Because of her support I never felt discriminated or stigmatized in school. She would have talks with my classmates to talk about HIV hence educating them.I can say that she contributed to my right to good health a lot.
Even I have also experienced some challenges. Firstly, in the CCC facilities, not all of them are fully equipped with machines. Like here in Kisumu there’s a facility that refers one to another hospital to get checked up, like in cases of malaria. Secondly the support groups based in the facilities are practically gone dormant because it’s being said that it’s expensive for the reimbursement and refreshment expenses.
I recommend that the government of Kenya can fund outreaches to the community so that the young girls and women can be trained and become advocates to their rights. This will enable young girls to be confident and become informed on many issues like how to be safe hence realising zero new infections cases.
Thirdly, our facilities can be equipped with the machines that will enable us to adhere very well and raising the immunity level. This protects the infection of HIV from the positive youths especially young women who are sexually active to infect their partners and vice versa.
I also think that us as young women need to be encouraged to be on the forefront to fight our own battles not leaving them for the leader to fight for us. We should take the leadership roles and make sure there’s no new infection among the girls.
About the International AIDS Conference in Durban South Africa
The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. It is a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward.
The AIDS 2016 conference will be held at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) from 18 to 22 July 2016.