Living with HIV/AIDS – A Story From Ethiopia

"It is the hope that people gave me by befriending me, accepting me and letting me know, with kind words, that I too could be happy"

Looking at Sarah* today, it would be hard to imagine that she is a person living with HIV/AIDS. Her lively, bubbly outlook belies the stigmatization that most of the people living with HIV have to endure day after day. The healthy look that she now exudes belies the fear that used to come when people saw her rapid loss of weight.

People tended to talk when they saw someone lose weight drastically. Before the disease was named ‘HIV/AIDS’ by western medicine, Africa had different names that were usually variations of the rapid weight lose that ensued once patients were infected. For example, in Uganda it was called ‘Slim Disease’ and in Ethiopia it was ‘Amenminé’ (Amharic for ‘that which shrivels’).

It is one reason why Sarah never missed a meal. Apart from the obvious fear of weight-loss, she has to make sure that she follows the strict diet plan that her doctors have set out for her. She knows that the antiretroviral drugs that she has to take at the exact same time, each and every day, need the support of a good diet plan.

Sarah used to live in the Middle East. It was there, while working in a club that involved some risqué job descriptions, that she was exposed to HIV. After being infected, she returned home to a bleak life that had her carrying even more burdens: unemployment, lack of a roof over her head and the absence of family and social support. At the time of her return, about ten years ago, no one would have anything to do with another person who had suspiciously lost weight, let alone one that had admitted that he or she was HIV positive.

Today, Sarah owns her own one-studio apartment that she rents out to earn a living. She has a vibrant social life that keeps her on the go almost all day long. She thinks of those dark days past and says ‘It is the hope that people gave me by befriending me, accepting me and letting me know, with kind words, that I too could look to a happy and productive tomorrow, that kept me going. Many people weren’t so lucky.’

That was what made her vow to help others. The first step she took was to join a local NGO that was established by people living with HIV – Tesfa Goh Ethiopia (Dawn of Hope – Ethiopia). Engrossing herself with helping others made her forget about the trials and tribulations she herself had to face. Extending her hand to feed the weak and helpless patients, made her realize how lucky she was.

Sarah says it was two things, more than the anti-retroviral treatment, that helped her win the battle against HIV/AIDS. And surprisingly, these two things are actually free to give – they are love and hope.

*Names and locations have been changed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

One Response to “Living with HIV/AIDS – A Story From Ethiopia”

  1. Kalupa says:

    I’m impressed, I have to say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a blog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you will have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is excellent; the problem is one thing that not enough persons are speaking intelligently about. I’m very completely happy that I stumbled across this in my seek for one thing relating to this.

Leave a Reply

Staypressed theme by Themocracy