It is time to break the silence--guest writer Adhyambo Odera
Story by ADHYAMBO ODERA
Publication Date: 2007/02/03
Reprinted with the kind permission of the author from NationMedia.com (Kenya), The Daily Nation, Kenya's Premier Newpaper.
Many years after the first HIV-related death was reported in Kenya,
the stigma associated with the Aids is yet to dissipate.
With tears in my eyes I read an e-mail from Lorna Irungu this week.
It reads in part: "I always begin the year with a passionate appeal
to my friends to raise money for a cause I believe in, fighting
violence and discrimination," the note started.
"But this year, I chose not to. As fate would have it, my father
passed away after being in hospital for three weeks.
"In this country where everyone dies after short illness, my sisters
and I have come forward to declare that my father, whom we all love
dearly, passed away due to pneumonia a condition escalated by his HIV
Today Lorna and her sisters will lay their father to rest in Nyeri.
Everyone at the burial will be sporting a red ribbon in support of
the fight against HIV.
One hot afternoon in January 2000 while I was a rookie journalist at
KBC, I received a call from my sister Juliet.
My mother was very ill at Kisumu district hospital. Juliet, my
younger sister, was 16 years old, in Form Three and had sickle cell
Three months later, my mother was well enough to return to her
Shortly thereafter, my sister died. Mum's illness relapsed in October
2000, no doubt triggered by the loss of her daughter.
I then decided to have her tested for HIV. She tested positive and
died six months later.
Before then, Aids to me was abstract — only afflicting the poor, the
ugly, the illiterate. Not any more. It infects our loved ones —
friends and family.
Lorna is my heroine today, because she came forward in a brave
gesture we should emulate.
Like Lorna, I'm not ashamed of my mother. It is time to break the
Categories: HIV AIDS HIV/AIDS Kenya Guest+writer ADHYAMBO+ODERA The+Daily+Nation Nation+Media+Kenya stigma