The people who stigmatised me the most were my husband’s family…
“When I come to [talk about] stigma and discrimination, I feel deeply sad because I was terribly stigmatised with my child. The people who stigmatised me the most were my husband’s family because of their conviction that he had contracted HIV from me.
They refused to touch us or share dinner plates, and would bleach items that I had touched. Before my diagnosis, we shared food and drank coffee together. But all these things completely stopped. After a while my husband passed away and stigma became worse.
His death, especially, subjected me to many problems. There was no one who tried to support me and my child. Even my sisters and all my family were not visiting us. In fact I didn’t tell them about my HIV positive status and they knew nothing…
My neighbours who shared coffee with me before totally stopped to call me for coffee ceremonies and isolated me from any social engagements. I was frightened and unwilling to be involved in Idir (residential self-help organisation) and stayed at home frequently. Because of this I felt sad and lonely.
Over a long time, their awareness of HIV/AIDS became improved… Presently their attitudes are not the same as before. In addition to this, one of my late husband’s sisters-in-law has become infected with HIV and this occurrence calmed them down because HIV has entered their home. They also realised later how painful and heartbreaking stigma was [and] they stopped to stigmatise at all.”
Alem Hailu, female, 37 years, Ethiopia
Every day from the 1st of July until the 21st of July we will be sharing extracts from 21 oral testimonies of 21 men and women living with HIV in Swaziland, Ethiopia and Mozambique. We’ll share these extracts here on this blog – with daily links on twitter and facebook. On the 21st of July, our partner the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) will launch a publication of these testimonies at the International AIDS conference 2014. Read more about 21 stories 21 days. Read more about the project