I did it. I went for the AA meeting yesterday and... drum roll please... I spoke. Well, it was just my name, my real name (with my head held up high) and the revelation that I am on their journey (with my head bent so low I almost hit the floor). I didn't feel ready to go all the way with the whats, wheres, whoms, whens and hows... and at the end of the meeting, I was glad I hadn't. I would have felt so stupid, after listening to all the other womens heart-breaking stories. Surprising, all attendants were (and have always been) women, though the meeting is open to all persons infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. But, I guess the African man is still too macho to go pouring his heart out, or telling how he has been unfaithful and is now infected...
One woman still seeks help and encouragement on how to tell her husband that she is HIV+. I am not sure when she learnt about her status but, apparently, she hasn't told her husband about. Never mind the fact that, with our cultures and traditions of polygamy and mistresses, it's kind of obvious who brought the virus (No, I am not on a blame game or being a feminist, it's what research, statistics and real life have shown here). Her husband has not gone for a test, and might take alot of convincing to go for one, but she swears she has not been unfaithful, has never had an operation, her last birth was 8yrs ago and all her children, including the last one, have all tested negative... I leave that to rest, for now.
The next lady, a very elderly looking one, was enquiring if there was anything left in the financial kitty as she had ran out of the (approximately) US$2 she had made the previous day. A whisper from the one next to me tells me that this one is not HIV or AIDS infected, but all her five children (2 sons, 3 daughters) had died of the disease, leaving her with 11 grandchildren, two of whom were still toddlers.
There was yet another who had been kicked out of her matrimonial home when her husband learnt that she was HIV+, yet he has totally refused to go for a test himself. She is still seeking legal redress, but obviously very slow when you are on a financial strain (considering that nothing is provided by the government, not even her medication).
There were a few others who made me take a closer look at my life. I have my son, healthy and bouncy, thank Jesus for that, I do not have a husband (it was by choice) to give me the chills that some of these women have, I have a job that, though it's not the best paying, I know might be able to provide for most of my medication once I tighten my belts. I realised that the only thing that has been pulling me down more than gravity itself is my pride... and I know I got lots of it. So, I am not going to drop my pride, I will just have to make better use of it. So I am HIV+, probably from one of exes (I am yet to contact them, I know I should, and I will), and I may be considered an outcast in my community once they know, but I am better than the thief who kills for your hard earned cash, I am better than those raping our sisters and daughters, I am better than our many corrupt politicians and officials who pocket government funds that could otherwise be providing medication to the sick and food to the orphans... I am better than so many of you who will be spitting at me when I come out of my closet. I will come out of my closet, just not today. I have to prepare myself for good cover from you... but it will be one of these fine days. Just not today.
Today, however, I intend to attend the ongoing conference in the city. I think it is the second or third being held in Nairobi, I am not sure. Never paid attention to these things before. I know the venue pretty well, and it's not too far from my work place. I need to come up with a plan of approach... do I get in as press? As a womens group representantive?... Well, lets work that one out. For now, this is what has been in the press about the conference.