No one touches a cup I touched
‘In my view…stigma still exists. However, I feel happy as I live a long life. It is almost five years since I have started ART. It gives me real pleasure because I didn’t expect to live long when I was found to be HIV-positive…
You know, some people who consider themselves as free of HIV still point their fingers at you. They don’t regard you as a healthy person, even though a lot of efforts are made through the media to avoid stigma and discrimination… To be frank, no one told me in words that they were discriminating against me. However, you can feel how someone is stigmatising you in their actions – such as cool greetings, facial expressions and other body language.
I had positive relationships with my neighbours before my diagnosis. When we invited each other for the coffee ceremony, we picked up cups of coffee randomly. No one was given a special cup for coffee. But following my diagnosis everything changed. No one touches a cup I touched… They look down on you and won’t share a cup of coffee with you. Some even think that an HIV–positive person could put blood in the coffee. I was disappointed and distressed, annoyed as well. But I have never asked the reason why they did it, because I knew it all too well.
However, it is true that there are more improvements than before…because of the rising numbers of HIV positive people. How could they stigmatise all of them? Therefore everything becomes a little easier and we start to share everything… We also start to invite and visit each other. Whatever problems face me, the worst time has passed.’
Abdissa Yadete, male, 50 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