You can’t afford to live in denial
Posted Wednesday, May 9 2012 at 00:00
Do you dream of living and working abroad? Well, which Kenyan does not?
However, before you book your flight, you need to get things right, especially if you are living with HIV.
In 2004 Jonnie* realised that with all his certificates, he could not get a job in Kenya, so he resorted to what we call juu chini”— moving heaven and earth — to travel abroad in search of greener pastures.
“I travelled using a visitor’s visa. However, I hurriedly got married so that I could stay,” Jonnie told me.
Before he left Kenya, he knew that he was HIV-positive, but did not share this information with his new wife.
The marrying part was, in my view, not wrong. It is the hushing up of such a serious matter that is wrong.
He told me that he thought he could buy time and play cat-and-mouse with the virus, but this did not happen. He had planned to marry, then divorce shortly afterwards.
“This way, I’d get to stay in the country for as long as I wanted without fear of getting deported, and also avoid ruining some else’s life,” he explained.
But his new wife had other plans, plans of them living together happily ever after.
After the wedding, she wanted to know how soon they could start a family. His hesitation did not work and one thing led to another and before long, they had two beautiful children.
Jonnie even got a job and was able to support his family. Then his worst fears became real.
His health started to deteriorate and concerned, his wife advised him to go to hospital. He downplayed his illness until herpes zoster struck, affecting the left side of his face.
“It was so painful that I didn’t care to hide my status anymore as long as I got treatment that would stop the excruciating pain.”
At the public hospital, Jonnie was informed that he not only had an opportunistic infection, he was also HIV-positive.
He feigned ignorance and pretended that he was hearing this for the first time.
“Scared, my wife also demanded to know her HIV status. Fortunately, she tested negative. As we sat there, the doctor made some phone calls, which I didn’t pay attention to, immensely relieved that my wife was HIV-negative,” he told me.
He was in the process of trying to figure out how he would handle their discordant situation when police officers burst into the doctor’s room, where he was waiting for his medication.
They informed him that they were under instructions to take him to the airport, where he would take the next available flight back to Kenya.