HIV came to light when I was being treated from cervical cancer. At that time HIV was still a ‘new’ thing and quite frankly thought the doctors were also confused as I got 3 different results – positive, negative and inconclusive so it was kind of easy to just ignore them and focus on the cervical cancer. It was very emotionally and physically draining as I had to go for chemotherapy but ultimately underwent hysterectomy as the cancer had spread through to the uterus. It was also a very confusing time of my life as I was only 26, married with small children and no proper support from my in laws let alone my husband. It was a cold, lonely and difficult time in my life, because I wasn’t even allowed to tell my own family what was happening.
The cancer went into remission, but HIV was with me for life. I was in denial, blocked it out of mind since no one could give information on HIV, so it made sense for me to try and concentrate at the fact that I was going through a divorce. My ex-husband walked out on us when I came back from the hospital after the hysterectomy, saying he can’t live with another man. So I tried to lead a normal life but the pain was unbearable, I was in and out of hospital suffering from depression & bipolar mood disorder. I was taking all sorts of medication and started consuming too much alcohol to just make the pain go away so I thought even attempted suicide, twice.
I had managed to block HIV out for seven years; in 2006 it reminded me that being in denial doesn’t mean it’s not there. I was hospitalized and told that I now had full-blown AIDS. I eventually received counselling, which helped me fight this battle in my mind. I started ARV’s, which helped my body fight back and my health improved.