How I managed to overcome stigmatization.
Kimutai Kemboi: "The fight against stigma is dynamic.It starts with one's soul, then people close to you and then the entire society."
Stigma refers to a negative, an ill and undermining attitude that a person has towards another. This does not occur naturally neither does it occur at a particular time, it is gradual and develops slowly by slowly. The good thing about is, it is not a permanent thing in that a person can opt out of it.
When I tested HIV-positive a year and couple of months ago, this was the situation I was going through. Thank God, I found a way out of it! I came to realize that in any situation, however challenging, there is a way out.
Immediately once I realized I was HIV-positive I felt like I was an outcast in society, someone with no destiny, hopeless and worthless even in my family. I had an ill prejudgment of how my family, friends and people around me would take me. I believed that everybody would be against me and no one would wish to associate with me.
Nothing positive went through my mind. I thought of nothing other than the negative things in human life. I saw my life leading to a rocky wall with no hope beyond. The grave was the only destination I could imagine. My mind was covered with darkness and all I could see was all cursed rejection and death. Little did I know this was merely an illusion.
I woke up one day, sat down, brought my thoughts together and figured out where my destiny lay. I vowed not to let my dreams fade away because of HIV. I had big ambitions in life and could let nothing shutter them. I came to a realization that I need to fight for my destiny as no one would do it for me. I am the one with the vision and the effort to make it reality must come from me.
"The next people I talked to about were my closest friends, who as it turns out, showered praise over my courage."
"People will take you as you take yourself" is the sound that rang through my mind. The fight against stigma had to start within me so that people around me might also develop an interest in fighting this vice of discrimination. This revelation was a great achievement for me and has been the reason behind the happiness, strength and courage that I now live with.
As a human beings we have a flexible mind which can be manipulated and adjusted to positivity. I decided to talk about my status and will never mind about how people will perceive it. The spirit of acceptance, courage and confidence is what drove me to disclose my status.
The first people I approached were my family members, who were shocked, but to my surprise were also very understanding and supportive. This was contrary to what I presupposed. Their positive perception inspired and motivated me such a lot that I had no fear anymore.
The next people I talked to about were my closest friends, who as it turns out, showered praise over my courage. I received mixed reactions when they shared their experiences and the sweet part was that some were convinced to go for testing. Many had the trust in me to disclose their status and I took the initiative of encouraging them to start and adhere to medication.
The last group of people I approached was the public, I posted on both my Facebook and twitter accounts which start out to be inspirational to many. The fact that my family was supportive changed many people's minds towards HIV and the entire vice of stigmatization and now I am convinced that many people have had some success in this fight.
The fight against stigma is dynamic. It starts with one's soul, then people close to you and then the entire society. This fight is possible, it only asks for dedication. The spirit of the fight is: fight from the soul ---->fight from close people ---->fight from society.