Take The Pledge Today

SKY SESH: MY HIV STORY

6th September 2022

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My name is Jenifer Lopez Omukuba, I am 19 years old and I was born HIV Positive. Ninataka ku-share my story with my fellow SKY Girls. 

My mother gave me to her mum when I was three years old. She was a nurse and my mother thought that she could take care better care of me. She schooled me, housed me, fed me and treated me as one of her own with love, support and care.

In 2017, nili-join seco at Highridge Girls Secondary School. I started getting sick every now and then. Nili-assume that it was the change of environment. The next year, my condition got worse and I started missing school sometimes. At some point nilipata rashes on my skin but it wasn’t an allergic reaction or skin condition. HIV ni virus yenye ina-attack the White Blood Cells in the immune system, that’s why people who have it fall sick easier than others.

My grandmother picked me from school. She had to go work so my sister alinipeleka Hosi but this time I didn’t go to a normal hospital, I went to Lea Toto, a hospital for children with HIV. We went straight to the VCT room. VCT ni Voluntary Counselling and Testing where watu wanaweza fanya HIV Test na pata counselling about it. 

My Sister and I got tested together, her results came back negative but they had to run mine again. When they finally came out, I learned niko positive and ilikuwa heartbreaking for me. Nilianza ku-question myself, “why am I positive?” “Will I die?” “Why is my sister not positive?”. Nothing really made sense to me at the moment. Later nilielewa that I was born with the virus. Inaweza transmit from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

I had to go back to Lea Toto and open a file officially as a patient and start my medication immediately. My grandmother accompanied me to the center and we opened the file. I had to choose a suitable time for my medication which was 9:00pm. Back at home my grandmother used to remind me about taking my medication, which was quite hectic. 

I felt like Lea Toto wali-ruin my life. Schools opened and I had to go to school with tons of medication. At first I was wondering nini nita ambia wenzangu when they ask about the medication. I tried taking them while everyone was asleep but ilikuwa tiresome. What was the need for all this medication when I’d been surviving since I was born? I threw them out in the toilet na nili-flush dawa yote. Lea Toto needed the drug containers and I kept the containers for them.

When we closed school, I took back the containers. Waliniuliza if I had been taking my medication without failure and I said yes. So waliniongezea dawa and I threw them again and waited for my next clinic date kurudisha the containers. 

During my routine counseling I noticed some of the files had green stickers but mine had red. Niliuliza mbona and I was told that the green sticker meant that the medicine was working and the Virus was becoming undetectable in the patient’s body. Red sticker ilimaanisha that the virus was still heavily detectable because the viral loads were increasing. Lakini, I was still hesitant about the medicine. 

Lea Toto people were making me come see them after every one and a half months and they wanted me to go for their seminars. I went for my grandmother’s sake and they enlightened us more about the virus.

In May 2018, I became so sick, sikuenda shule for a whole term. Nilipata TB which became worse daily. The people from Lea Toto were on my neck and niliskia kama nobody was my friend there juu wali-suspect I’m not taking my medication. They notified my school and I had to transfer my medication from the dormitory to the sickbay. 

At first, sikuiona as a good idea because now everyone would see the medication I was taking. Our nurse was kind and told me to put my medication in a different cabinet from the rest and I could take them when everyone had cleared the sickbay.

I was working towards the green sticker now. I pushed myself even harder and finally got there. Later in 2019, I got the courage to tell my class in school that I am HIV positive na walikuwa supportive. It used to reach 9:00pm and the class would remind me to go take my medication. Back at the center now everyone is smiling with me and now Lea Toto ime-become home.

I accepted my status learnt how to live with it. HIV is just an active virus and nothing more. Nina fight the virus by taking my medication daily. HIV doesn’t define who I am. Being positive is neither a condition nor a disability.

Jenifer Lopez Omukuba, 19 Years old