"Stigma may kill faster than HIV itself, Stop it!!"
Have you ever been isolated by the very people you hold dear because you are HIV positive? Have you ever been so sick and helpless that you stretch out your hands for help, but instead you are cast away? Has life ever felt so meaningless that you considered suicide except for the sake of your children?
These are the bitter questions that explain the trauma that Mary Nyakuru, a 36 year old mother of seven passed through when she tested positive for HIV in October 2018. A resident of Kololo Village in Rigbo Sub-County Arua District, Mary Nyakuru remarried to a second husband to escape from the woes of a tearful first marriage.
“I got married when I was a teenager because my parents could no longer support me at home,” Mary explains with a coy smile on her face. “I was very happy to be in my husband’s house, not until we started bearing children and that’s when things went bad. He used to beat me a lot so, I decided to leave him and try life somewhere else
“I am Positive and Happy. Thanks to the CDDP App project.”
-daniel, hiv client
Olionga Village in Rigbo Sub-County is one of the remote refuge hosting communities in Arua District. Neighboring Rhino Camp, the largest refugee settlement in Arua with a population of 109,6691 refugees, Rigbo Sub-County has felt the punches that come with the presence of the refugees such as natural resources degradation, high HIV prevalence rates and insufficient health service delivery.
Hailing from Olionga Village is one Daniel Olega, a 50 year old married man and father of seven (7).
Daniel contracted HIV in 2012. When he looks back at the past seven (7) years, sad memories rush through his mind filled with years of self-neglect, stigma and family disputes. Though a discordant couple, the news of HIV did not go so well with his wife.
“I got HIV in 2012. I lost my friends and even my family and many people despise me,” Daniel said. “My wife rejected me for long time. She was very annoyed with me”, revealed Daniel
“RICE-WN came at a time when we were about to go on hunger strike, thanks to God.”
– Ms. Jamba Priscilla
In 1980 Priscilla Jamba moved from Liberia, Kentile city to settle in Yei city of South Sudan with her South Sudanese husband who was working in Liberia by then. Together God blessed them with four children, two boys and two girls. During the first South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) war in 1993, they took refuge in Arua Town. Horror started unveiling on the family when the husband of the family passed on in 2006. Mrs. Jamba got a job as clerk typist in an institution as survival for the family. It took a lot of time for the family to move from the trauma of losing the bread winner. During the recent South Sudanese war that saw the family helplessly flee to Uganda for refuge. Mr. Jamba was no longer alive to protect and bring the family to Arua Town like in the first war.
"HIV is a virus. Denial of Status is the deadly disease"
– Mandela nelson
After testing positive on 11/6/2016 in Siripi Health Center III, Arua District. Denial of my status was the only thing left to do. Questions which I have no answers to were flowing in my head like; “How will my family look at me?” “What will the community think of me?” …”and how long more will I live for?”. Mandela Nelson, a forty-six (46) year old South Sudanese refugee living with his elder sister in Ariaze B, Odupi Sub county Arua District with no biological child and wife resorted living in guilt.
For about one week of refusing to accept status Mandela fell so sick without help from
anyone. The thought of killing himself, excessive drinking of alcohol from morning to sunset were the only resolutions Nelson could draw to. It was more upsetting that amidst his positive results no nurse from the health facility followed to initiate him on treatment. With the feeling of no one caring for you, no sign of hope – Mandela preferred to end his suffering by death. The idea of marriage and having children had become irrelevant to him.
“When two (2) staff from RICE-WN came to do mobilization for CDDP in Ariaze B my name was included among the clients to be mobilized and followed up to joined CDDP since I was too stigmatized I chased them away I told them am HIV negative but they kept coming to give me advice to join CDDP in case am stigmatized to go to facility by then I had rashes all over my body, reddish lips, cough a lot and loss of weight”