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Dealing with HIV at 22

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd December 2012 04:28 PM

From as far back as I can remember, I have always taken syrups and tablets. No one told me I was HIV positive. I was only told I had sinusitis.

From as far back as I can remember, I have always taken syrups and tablets. No one told me I was HIV positive. I was only told I had sinusitis.

22-year-old Dourine (not real name) found out a year ago that she was born with HIV, and although she still hasn’t come to a place of calm with her status, Dourine lives a positive life and is getting treatment at Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) at Mulago. She shared her experience with Vicky Wandawa
 
When did you get to know you were HIV positive?
 
From as far back as I can remember, I have always taken syrups and tablets. No one told me I was HIV positive. I was only told I had sinusitis. But last year when I fell sick, I was taken to Mulago Hospital, where I heard a doctor say to my father, ‘you have to tell this girl, because if you don’t, she will keep missing her drugs’. That is when he broke the news.
 
The reason I fell sick is that I used to miss taking my drugs, sometimes for three days, because I did not know how serious my condition was.

What was your reaction?
 
I couldn’t believe it; I cried; I wanted to die. I started asking myself questions like why it had to be me. My father got me a counsellor; my brother and father hired him. So when I went home, he was always there to counsel and talk to me; he made sure I could move on with my life.
 
I was taken to CDC where most of the patients were old. Whenever I walked in to get my drugs, they would start talking about how a young girl like me could have got HIV. It was so uncomfortable that I loathed that place. When my counsellor heard about it, he got me another place where young people go at IDI (Infectious Diseases Institute).
 
I found some kids who were even younger than me. I felt better. ¬ en, I just moved on with my life.
 
Are you in a relationship?
 
I was once in a relationship, but my boyfriend went abroad after Form 4. I was in S.1 when we met and he was in S.2. We’d taken our relationship to another level.

Was it protected sex?
 
Yes it was, not because I was protecting him from HIV, but I was scared of getting pregnant. Besides, then I didn’t know I even had HIV.

Did you get another guy?
 
I have been with many guys; one day he likes you, the next day you hear stories that he is cheating. Although this is before I sleep with them or tell them my status. I have given relationships a break.

Haven’t you met any guys here?
 
The¬ e guys I see are younger than me, while some are my agemates. I need a mature man. Down to earth, loving, understanding and those people are not here (at IDI).
 
How does that make you feel?
 
My counsellor asked me to close that chapter until I feel stable. Each time I try, I get frightened. I don’t want stress.
 
We are told that if you stress yourself and you are positive, it’s a bad thing because you are adding another disease to the HIV.
 
That is why I am not in a relationship. I have never been in a relationship since I found out. I wonder how my exes will react.
 
Any anger towards your parents?
 
My mother died when I was about eight.
 
She is the only person I’d blame, but she is not here. I thought if she was here, she perhaps would have told me that I was sick.
 
I feel my dad was left with too much to handle on his own.


Dealing with HIV at 22

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