Everybody can stigmatise you, whether they are educated or not…
“I can say stigma is a sign of disgrace or shame which is humiliating and demeaning to those who are subject to it… Here I must confess one thing. When I am not working, I always prefer to be alone and mostly stay at home. HIV, and its worst effect stigma, made my life dark. I lost my lovely and my young husband…
Everybody can stigmatise you, whether they are educated or not… my ex-husband is educated and a masters degree holder… But he is the first man to stigmatise me.
I was very desperate and shocked [when told of my HIV positive status]… Everything I had planned – husband, kids, and dreams – were all up for re-evaluation. I didn’t think anyone would want to be around me. I was terrified about what others would think. I didn’t tell anybody… I didn’t tell anybody because of fear of stigma. My husband had been working in another area far away and so I didn’t rush to tell him… I was seriously sick at that time… Meanwhile he called and was told [by others] that I had got tested, was HIV positive and had already started ART.
After discussion [my husband] got tested and fortunately his result was HIV negative; we returned back home without talking to each other. Since then, he was unhappy and his attitude totally changed. He started to sleep alone and stopped to eat the meal which I prepared… he also he warned me not to use his slippers which we used in common before… His family and friends…pressurised him into leaving me. Two or three years later he graduated with an MA degree and deliberately got hired out of our town. I realised that my husband had decided to get a divorce and had already started to live his own life out of the town. He openly told me he wouldn’t be living with me and wants to marry another woman.
He is more educated than me and having the financial power to do what he wants. He has family and friends who advised and pressurised him to sue for divorce and so we divorced each other. Now he lives his own life and is married to another woman and I live as a single person with my children too…If our HIV statuses had been vice versa, I would never have divorced him and I would never have left him alone.”
Tsehai Worku, female, 38 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