On Wednesday last week, Peter Mweru’s phone rang on a warm Mbale morning. The caller was an adolescent girl named Jackie*, whose concern was one Peter has got used to over the lockdown period; if he could help her access ARVs. Peter like many of our ambassadors was much obliged to help and in a short while was at her door with a delivery. She smiled gratefully and as she turned to go back into the house, her father stepped out.
“What is in that box, Jackie? And who is this young man?” Her father demanded toughly. Jackie’s mother who was in the house immediately moved out on hearing her husband’s stern voice.
“You” she said pointing at Peter. “Who are you and what brings you here?”
Peter who had initially intended to stay a short while was now forced to take a seat and collect all the confidence he could. He knew for sure that Jackie’s parents were not aware of her status and even then, she looked too scared to tell them. It was going to be a long morning.
It took 2 hours of patience for Jackie to finally come around and tell her parents that she has been living with HIV and this young man had helped her get a drug refill. The parents were bitter all over again, not at Jackie but at Peter this time.
“You knew of our daughter’s status and you didn’t think it was important to tell us?” Jackie’s father went again. It took Peter 2 hours to explain that he had only got to know Jackie that Wednesday and that it was unethical to reveal people’s status without their consent, no matter who was asking. He then told them about his work as an ambassador and how he passionately thrives for the wellbeing of People Living with HIV and hopes that one day, we can put an end to HIV/AIDS.
“I was pleased to see that the parents moved from being tough to being understanding. They seemed to be supportive they took my number. However, I will have to follow up to make sure she is coping well” Peter told us as he narrated the ordeal.
Disclosure can be hard for young people living with HIV, especially now that they have to be home. Sometimes they live in violent homes and are not as lucky as Jackie. In what ways do you think disclosure can be handled better in the Lockdown period?
*Names have been altered for client privacy purposes.