Ismail Harerimana, 25, might have wanted to share his own story about living positively with HIV/AIDS for the benefit of others, alas, the same story has come back and taken more from him- His friends.
On Thursday, The Daily Monitor published a story of Harerimana in which he narrated how he would escape from school to go back home to take his anti-retroviral drugs. Harerimana, a resident of Bukimbiri Sub County in Kisoro district, Western Uganda, says in the story that he acquired the virus at birth.
He narrated how he discovered nine years ago that he was HIV-positive after he tested for it. He had heard rumours that his father who died a few years ago was living with HIV and AIDS. Harerimana was not delivered from a health facility, he is the only one who is HIV positive among his siblings.
However, after having his personal story published, he is now having trouble keeping the few friends he had, while he has started receiving so many messages from strangers instead, all making frantic requests for the detailed story of his HIV positive life.
“After seeing the story, so many people started calling me first thing I woke up, the biggest number started blocking me, saying it was not necessary for me to share the story in the media. But I did it to senstise others so we do not die of HIV Aids silently,” Hererimana says in an interview with Uganda Radio Network
“Those who did not believe that I was positive can now learn not to trust anyone with their status and I achieved my aim,” he adds.
Harerimana notes that several of his followers on Facebook have blocked him after castigating him for sharing what they called a nasty story, while strangers have also jammed his inbox for more of the story. On World Aids Day, Harerimana and a group of youth living with HIV and AIDS camped at Nabugabo Sand Beach in Masaka to share experiences on how best to live positively.
They played, went swimming, and enjoyed life at the beach to send a message that having HIV is not the end of the world.
Ismail Harerimana hopes for the day when the world will be without AIDS. He says this can only be achieved when all people get to know their HIV status to manage themselves.
Harerimana is one of the 1.4 million Ugandans living with HIV while globally, according to World Health Organisation, there are an estimated 34.2 million people living with the virus.