A story of hope from an ICW member in Kenya

"Ten years ago, Inviolata Mmbwavi's relatives thought she would die. Today, thanks to her determination, she is the star of the family. 'My entire family is now proud of what I am despite the handicaps I face', Inviolata says. She adds: 'Even relatives who used to gossip about my HIV status have stopped'."



News report, 15th August 2004
A story of hope from Kenya



[Mod note: this posting illustrates the progress that is possible in a context that is potentially very restrictive. Can eForum members provide other such examples? Are there any other comments you would like to make?]

ONCE THE BLACK SHEEP AND NOW FAMILY STAR

Ten years ago, Inviolata Mmbwavi's relatives thought she would die. Today, thanks to her determination, she is the star of the family. "My entire family is now proud of what I am despite the handicaps I face," Inviolata says. She adds: "Even relatives who used to gossip about my HIV status have stopped."

Today, she has only one wish. "I would want to have another child but I do not want to infect somebody or have an HIV-positive child," she says. Her relatives now claim, curiously, she is not HIV-positive. "People want to see a sickly person and associate HIV/AIDS with someone who is regressing," Inviolata says.

She blames the society for stigmatising people living with AIDS. "Nobody deserves to be HIV-positive. But the challenge of living positively must start with an individual," she stresses. Before she left the country for further studies in the UK, Inviolata thought that healthy people hated those living with AIDS.

"We have no power to change the society. I now tell people to live their own life and stop living on the whims of others," she says. Stigmatisation in Africa will continue for as long as people continue living in communities. "I now understand that gossiping is normal. There is nothing wrong with it and you cannot stop people from talking," she says. "If they want to condemn you, let them do it but if your inner self is strong, you can overcome anything."

Sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund for her studies in UK, Inviolata heads the organisation planning a national AIDS conference between August 29 to September 3. The National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK) hopes to bring together delegates from all over the country to champion the rights of people living with HIV.

The lobby group has been recognised by the National Aids Control Council (NACC) as the umbrella organisation of registered organisations fighting AIDS. Some of the problems faced by the People Living with Aids include access to drugs. "We also want to lobby and have attitudes of those infected and affected change," says Inviolata.

Date: 15th August 2004
Source: Sunday Standard, Kenya



A posting from STIGMA-AIDS

To submit a posting, send to: stigma-aids@eforums.healthdev.org
For anonymous postings, add the word "anon" to the subject line
To join, send a blank message to join-stigma-aids@eforums.healthdev.org
To leave, send a blank email to leave-stigma-aids@eforums.healthdev.org

For discussion archives:

http://eforums.healthdev.org/read/?forum=stigma-aids



STIGMA-AIDS is a time-limited global forum on HIV/AIDS-related stigma,
managed and moderated by the Health & Development Networks Moderation
Team (HDN, www.hdnet.org) with the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC; www.ifrc.org) and
Development Cooperation Ireland (www.dci.gov.ie).

The views expressed in this forum do not necessarily reflect those of
HDN, IFRC or DCI.

Reproduction welcomed provided source is cited as follows: STIGMA-AIDS
eForum 2004: stigma-aids@eforums.healthdev.org