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Mental Health


HIV stigma? Speak out, shut them up!

Friday, 26 May 2017 Written by // Kimutai Kemboi, Categories // Social Media, Activism, African, Caribbean and Black, Kimutai Kemboi, General Health, Mental Health, Health, International , Living with HIV, Media, Opinion Pieces

Kimutai Kemboi: "Shame is another virus on its own."

HIV stigma? Speak out, shut them up!

The best way to win a battle is to avoid what is being fought for. It sounds like a simple statement but has an immense impact. This is what has made me the person I am today: strong, courageous and optimistic.

Many people have asked me why I always post HIV related issues and disclose my status publicly, I do it for a purpose. I know it is a very sensitive issue but the reason behind it is more significant than its sensitivity and that is why I talk about it like anything else, without fear.

I want to make it clear that I don't regret being HIV positive, but want to make the HIV virus regret getting into my body, and I am not ashamed to say it publicly since shame is another virus on its own. I have a simple body that cannot comfortably host the two viruses, you know. I must disown one to comfortably host another.

"They will come back to their senses, the tension in you will also be over and you will not feel any pain as they grill you. Their talk will last for a week and soon they will have nothing more to say about you."

I found that disclosing my status was the best tool to end stigma and all other sorts of negative perception that people had towards me and surely it worked out. This is what has always kept me strong and an inspiration to many since everybody admires my courage in speaking point blank!

Since then, I have realized that nobody talks about me because what I say is ten times more than what they would have said. I exhaust everything they knew about me and leave them with nothing to add on. This has curbed talk behind my back.

The other reason for going public is to instill hope in the hopeless, especially those in denial, that there is life after contracting HIV. People need to understand that this is just an infection and that it does not kill unless we allow it to. though given a chance it surely will. They need to know that it is manageable and that a person can lead a normal life.

Disclosure has been a great weapon in my fight against stigma, the best weapon, I think. They will come back to their senses, the tension in you will also be over and you will not feel any pain as they grill you. Their talk will last for a week and soon they will have nothing more to say about you.

You may not realize the benefits of disclosing yourself but I am telling they are really there and you will have inspired many in one way or another. And remember the biggest beneficiary is you, since you will live a more stress free life.

I am a living testimony to this; at times I forget I am HIV-positive only to remember it when my time to take medication comes. Otherwise no thought about my condition runs through my mind. With this and adherence to medication, life expectancy is a must-beat figure.

So let us maintain a positive attitude, adhere to medication, eat well and enhance our physical fitness; these things scare HIV away and before it comes back you will be a year away, like laughter before a tear drop hits the ground. Make this lifestyle fun and you will always smile at it.

I wish you well and long life.

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