This post was sent to us by a Live Mag SA reader from Nigeria, who wanted to share his HIV story.
‘I dated Edwina* for over a year. We had unprotected sex and oral sex on many occasions. It was an almost perfect relationship and we had no doubt that we would one day marry. And then voila! She was off to Dubai to pursue a job, and in few months I couldn’t wait to join her. When I arrived in Dubai, I didn’t have a job but I didn’t want to be apart from her any more so I decided to stay put and look for work.
She finally got a job at a hospital as a customer relations officer and we prayed for me to find work so things could be easy for us and we could get married. Unfortunately, my visa expired and I had to return home to Nigeria.
One of the requirements for residence in the UAE is that an immigrant has to undergo medical tests to certify that he or she is fit to live and work there. Edwina underwent the test confidently but two days later she was asked to return for a retest. In the process of a retest she was taken to a confined facility after which, she was told she would eventually be deported back to Nigeria.
The news shocked me at first until I travelled to the facility in Dubai from Abu Dhabi where I was based in search for my own dream job. I couldn’t believe the news until I got there and I saw her – alongside other African ladies from Kenya and Ethiopia. They had all tested positive for HIV and awaiting deportation.
I wept bitterly and uncontrollably like a child with wild thoughts and fear running through my mind. I thought, “If she’s positive, then I am definitely positive”.
On the other hand, I regularly tested for HIV test and had even gone for a test before coming to the UAE. Eventually Edwina was deported because she could no longer continue to work at the hospital due to her status. Life became a living hell for me. My hopes were dashed.
I, however, never stopped loving her. I reassured her of my love for her and my support for her. I made her understand that it wasn’t the end of the world.
Being HIV positive never meant I couldn’t ever marry her.
Back home in Nigeria, Edwina started taking her medication and along the line I joined her so I could spend time with her. We had sex several times – and didn’t always use protection. It was – or rather – I was that crazy. I guess I didn’t want to make her feel stigmatised neither did I want to make her feel rejected. Most ladies are abandoned by their husbands and partners the moment their positive statuses are discovered. I never wanted her to experience such.
A few months after my return, I performed a test. I was negative. We never stopped making love. I never stopped testing also.
We eventually ended the relationship though we still talk as friends and pals but don’t have sexual intercourse. It’s been over a year now and I never stopped going for HIV tests. All the results have been negative. I am confident in saying that a lady can be positive and not infect her partner but it is necessary to practice safe sex every time and keep getting tested.
My story is meant to encourage someone out there that being positive doesn’t mean the end of life neither should it be an end to any good relationship. I may not be in a relationship with Edwina anymore but it was certainly not because of her status being positive.
Let’s say NO to Stigmatisation.’
Author: E. Peter
* Name has been changed to protect her identity.