By Joan Yakub
Loneliness, Violence and Desertion are parts of the experiences of any individual infected with HIV/AIDS, especially in a country like Nigeria.
Those were the components of the experiences of Victoria Mba as she shared her experience during a 2-days training for journalists which was organised by Journalist Against AIDS (JAAIDS).
Mba, a member of the Association of Women living with HIV and AIDS (ASWHAN, Lagos State Chapter) explained how her marriage resorted to a case of domestic violence because she tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
Sharing her experiences of stigmatisation when people close to her got to know she was living with HIV.
“My husband who I thought should love and care for me didn’t, i became an object of ridicule and my husband turned me to a punching bag, because he wanted to frustrate me out of the marriage.
“What I least expected was that people stopped buying items from me when I started a business just because they know my status,” she explained,
In her words “HIV is not a death sentence, people living with it are human being, they deserve to be treated like any other person put there with love and care.”
Adeola, a young lady also shared how she has lost numerous suitors whenever she discloses her status.
She said people find it easy to relate with people infected with COVID-19 than those with HIV/AIDS explaining that both infections can be managed.
“During the lockdown, I came to understand that people prefer to stay closer to people with COVID-19 than those living with HIV. It is really heart breaking to know where we are not being accepted.”
Recalling the ill treatment from medical personnel when she went to the hospital for medical attention, she said, “the discrimination is right from the medical personnel who should show some care or empathy.
On her part, Olajumoke Ogungbe (Pseudonym), a mother of four, explained how she was denied employment because of her status, despite her qualification for the job.
Victoria, another PLWHA emphasized that “although there is no cure yet for HIV but there are Anti Retro Viral drugs (ARV) that people living with HIV could use to suppress the virus, with that they could live normal like everyone getting married and having kids without getting anyone infected.”