I am Meri from Pugima. I am 20 years old.  I am HIV positive.

 

 
 

When I got sick I couldn’t even walk.  I was so thin weighing only 36kg.  The nurse informed me that I was seriously ill and asked me if I was ready to receive the results from the blood test.  I cried after learning that I was HIV positive.
 
I returned to my village but I did not tell family about my status, not even to my parents. I was scared to tell them because I thought they would be furious and kick me out of the house. Finally I asked my father if I could get something off my chest and I told him that I had been diagnosed with HIV. My father cried when he heard the news. Tears also rolled down my face and we both cried.
 
My father comforted me and told me to be patient and to keep praying.  But my mother rejected me. The next day she set aside my own bowl and plate. She prohibited me from sharing my food with my younger sibling. “Don’t share you food," she warned me.
 
I went to the hospital and a nurse consoled me and told me not to be afraid because there is ARV (Antiretroviral medicine) to treat HIV. Initially when I started taking ARV I experienced a slight headache and nausea. The nurse told me that those symptoms were normal and they disappeared after two weeks.

 

 
A portrait of Meri after she finishes her daily chores.

A portrait of Meri after she finishes her daily chores.

Meri poses with her puppy.

Meri poses with her puppy.

 

 

I have been taking ARV for five years now. I am healthy and capable to work like regular people without HIV because ARV has prevented the HIV virus from progressing in my body.

 

 

"my goals are to be independent and work to support my family"

 
 

 

My goals in life are to be independent and to work to support my family.  Each day I wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning to do the household chores. To earn money I sell meat at the local market.  I also take computer lessons because I have the desire to learn.  No one pushes me to do these things but it’s because I want to be self-sufficient.

 

 
 
 

"We should not reject people with hiv."


 
 

 

There are many friends with HIV who are not accepted by their family.  We should not reject them but instead give them support and encouragement to stand on their own two feet.  To all my friends living with HIV please take your ARV medicine regularly to stay healthy and motivated like me.