Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I am called Ayoo Proscovia [part three/four]

The following is a first person story written by IRMA advocate Ayoo Proscovia. Click here to check out her Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocate bio.

This is the third of 4 installments. Read the previous installments here

STIGMA 1: One morning as I was about to reach the school, a teacher rang me and told me that my office had been locked by a different and bigger padlock and that danger was looming, so he warned me not to go to the school.

So, with fear I also went back and immediately went to report the matter to the DEO. The DEO simply told me to go back home and sit since they knew my problem. No further explanation was made, no letter, no regrets and no apology from whosoever was made till today.

I have sat at home with no school to teach in - and yet with the decentralization system of governance in our country, I cannot cross over to any other district so as to be employed.
With the harsh conditions I went through/lived in,- traveling long distances to and fro the school, doing without meals/lunches, under the hot sun and sometimes under rain, having been locked out of my office and actually having been chased away from my job, I was faced with what was more than STRESS.........

Within 2 weeks I broke down with severe malaria and was admitted in hospital with several bottles of drip as part of treatment. But the openness and friendship I had involved myself in provided the support I needed.

ARVs were not yet in the district, but through phone calls, I was put on ARVs by CDC Tororo immediately-having taken CD4 cell count with result of 62.
I took my ARVs religiously ,but after 1 year I started getting reactions- where I could vomit 6-7 times in a day until I was changed to 2nd line regimen which I am on till now.

In October 2003, I attended the 11th International conference for people living with HIV/AIDS that was held in Uganda, I presented my case of stigma and workplace discrimination against me and human rights took it up, but up to now nothing has been done to support me.

STIGMA 2: From the closest members of my family (My father and mother/sisters and brothers).
When I failed in the 1st line of treatment, I broke down completely and almost died. I was admitted in hospital under the care of the doctors from CDC and TASO for 2 weeks. I lost senses and almost ran mad or something of the sort - I was put on drug holiday for those weeks. As I was lying in hospital, my own father thought I was to die. He removed all my little savings/cash from my account after removing my ATM card from my little children.

Meanwhile at home, my mother carried away most of the valuables like; my dear clothes, shoes, traditional wears and other household assets. My father and eldest sister who is a nurse in one big hospital in the country bought a coffin ready for my burial, but I failed to die, they removed my will, read it and in it I had written that because of the way I was chased away when my husband died, I wanted to be buried at my new (OWN) homeland, my father wanted to disrespect my wish, so he arranged with my former in-laws that they may receive my body back in the other village and that I should be buried near my husband so that my father would sell away my own pieces of land in town. I did not die and I don't know what they did with their coffin.


POSITIVE LIVING I have managed myself in this situation through this period of time by basically practicing positive living which include things like; accepting my status and situation, having hope, seeking continuous counseling ,eating balanced diet, drinking plenty of clean safe water, eating plenty of fruits, seeking prompt medical support, sharing my HIV status with others for support, avoiding self medication, doing enough exercises, taking septrim on a daily basis, avoiding stress whenever I can, praying to God for longer life so that I can see my children graduate in future, continue with normal activities, continuing to plan for my family and taking my ARVs religiously/observing adherence.

Read the fourth, and final, installment of "I am called Ayoo Proscovia"
on Friday, August 15.

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