Infected With HIV For Not Testing Before Sex, 25-Year Old Sarah Aporo

By Kungu Al-mahadi Adam

Friends would speak negative things about people living with HIV, calling them all sorts of names, not knowing that the person they are sitting next to is actually positive.

Sarah Aporo

Although an estimated 1.4 million Ugandans live with HIV, a virus which causes AIDS, social stigma and discrimination remain one of the key barriers to HIV response in the East African country.

A number of Ugandans including top celebrities and other public figures have since the 90s come out to publicly disclose their positive HIV status, with an intention to encourage the public to do voluntary testing as well as create awareness about deadly virus.

Indeed, this has motivated many more people to come out and speak about their positive living. Recently, Sarah Aporo, a 25 year old HIV Positive Makerere University Business School Administrative Assistant talked to me about her situation. She believes speaking out boldly about her status can transform hundreds of lives and make a difference.

Endowed with a beautiful smile and gorgeous voice, Sarah Aporo has been on HIV treatment since January 2017.

-Grief, Sadness, Tears Are All Part of Her Story-

According to Aporo, she was infected by her boyfriend with whom they had dated for about a year and would have unprotected sex therein despite them not testing for the virus at any single point. Her boyfriend had told her that he did not know his HIV status.

Aporo was however later on tipped by a friend that she suspected her boyfriend to be living with the virus, something that prompted her to go to the health facility on January 2, 2017 to find out about her health status. She tested positive for HIV.

On realizing that she had the virus, Aporo asked the boyfriend to go test together for the first time and both were confirmed HIV positive.

“We had dated for about a year or two and we had never done an HIV test together before despite having unprotecte sex along. I did my test on January 2, rushed to his workplace and he was not there. So, we both did a test together the following day on January 3, 2017 and we were both found to have HIV in our body,” narrates Aporo.

“When I asked him when he last tested, he told me three years back, that meant to me that may be he didn’t know his his HIV status, but whether he knew or not, I can’t really confirm, but for me I was very sure that it is him who infected me. He apologised and we parted ways to move on with our own life,” she adds.

-Starts Medication Immediately-

Ms Aporo says she had prior knowledge that when one tests positive for HIV, starting medication immediately would help him/her live a healthy and normal life, something that drove her seek treatment.

“I knew about HIV, how it spreads and the preventive measures as well. It is so unfortunate that I didn’t test with my boyfriend before indulging in sexual intercourse with him, but that is past now. So, to me, I needed to start medication immediately,” she says.

Ms Aporo reveals that: “I did not start ARVs immediately because I had to first take my blood samples to know which kind of drugs were suitable for me and so, for the first two weeks I was on Septrin then on January 17, 2017, I started taking my ARVs and from then up to now, I have never missed taking it.

The brave heroin explains that starting the medication early has helped her suppress her viral load to undetectable levels and that she feels “perfectly fine” with no side effects from the first day she started taking ARVs.

-Having A Supportive Family-

Aporo’s family including her mother and friends have been very supportive to her since disclosing to them her HIV status. They have neither abandoned her nor blamed or accused her like what happened in some cases.

“We have always heard of families who reject their family members after knowing that they are positive, you have had of friends who discriminate a positive peer and jobs where they don’t employ you when you are HIV positive, but in my cases it is different, my family and friends are very supportive,” explains Aporo.

“Every person I shared with, was very welcoming and supportive to me. I shared with my boss at work and she told me that ‘Sarah this is not a reason for you not to come for work’. This was one of my strongest turning points. My Mum and family members have been supportive from day one and they continue to do so,” she adds.

-Crying In Silence Before Disclosing To Friends-

Aporo says before disclosing her status to the the public, she lived with the secret for four months and her friends “would speak negative things about people living with HIV, calling them all sorts of names, not knowing that the person they are sitting next to is actually positive”.

“I would just keep quiet because I wasn’t ready yet to share with them but when I came out to declare that I was positive, they all couldn’t hold their tears and apologised for the wrong things they spoke about people living with HIV. They didn’t know that their closest friend was HIV positive, Aporo explains.

This, she says, should be a lesson to the public not to stigmatise any person because of his or her HIV status.

“Sometimes we speak things not knowing that even our parents, the closest friends we have, even your husband may be positive but you are busy stigmatising people who are HIV positive just because they have not shared with you,” she says.

On where she got the courage to publicly share her status, Aporo says: “I don’t mind anyone knowing my HIV status whether it is a prospective marriage partner, my employer, public or friends, because hiding my status is worse than sharing it.”

“It is all about accepting one’s self as a person living with HIV and not minding what other people say. For me it may not be about myself because I am very sure that someone who is struggling to live with HIV including huge numbers who contact me after testing positive, wonder how they are going to live with the virus. These get some brighter side of life after sharing with me because they see me living a normal life, going for work as well as doing things I love, despite being HIV positive. It gives them hope,” she says.

-Go Test For HIV Before Sex-

On testing, Aporo says, members of the public should stop ‘testing’ one’s status using eyes saying there are many people who don’t not believe that she is HIV positive even when she tells them.

“Those who are negative have a chance of remaining negative but for us who are already positive, we can’t reverse our status, we only have to take ARVs to keep living.”

She says it is burdensome to keep taking medication on a daily and paying constant visits to the doctor, revealing that not everyone one living with the virus lives a positive life. She advises people who are negative to be cautious about their sexual life.

“Am surprised, there are people who see me and they argue that I am lying to them about my HIV status because they think a positive person must look ill and sick. You shouldn’t just look at a person and tell their HIV status, you need to go to a trusted health facility and test together,” he said.

-Stop Judging People Living With HIV-

On people who judge those living with the virus, Aporo says it is a bad practice because a huge number of HIV positive individuals acquired the virus not necessarily through having multiple sexual partners but via other ways including those born with the virus, those raped by infected individuals, partners who never disclose their status and married people who go out sleep around and bring the virus to their spouses at home.

“Those who judge people with HIV are very unfair because living with the virus is a burden itself and when people also discriminate you with all sorts of judgement, it becomes worse. It is unfortunate, it is a bad thing, I detest it.”

Author: adamkungu

Ugandan Journalist with passion for African affairs| Expert on Somalia| Former Talkshow host on Top TV and Radio| Talkshow Host Baba TV and Radio 4.

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