Scovia Mbambu. "We go to the hospital to have our blood tested but we do not know why—only that the drugs we do get must be taken for a healthy life." Scovia suffers from the AIDS virus. She has very little knowledge of the disease. The only thing she understands is that if she does not take the drugs, she will die. Because of the stigma, Scovia never talks about her HIV-positive status. She can only speak freely at the clinic, where the other children are infected. © Carol Allen-Storey
Pricilla Kabusinge. "Two years ago I was diagnosed as HIV-positive. AIDS is not something I know very much about. Most of the time it is discussed in whispers around my village. Since I was diagnosed, my aunt has warned me never to have sex, as men will not treat me well. Only the people I live with do I disclose my HIV status—that way I avoid stigma and the sense of shame, which is very depressing. Counseling has been exceptionally helpful in managing my sense of isolation, especially the loneliness." © Carol Allen-Storey
Godfrey Miwamanya. "My parents perished from the AIDS virus when I was only 2 years old. I do not really understand what AIDS is or how I acquired the disease. Isolation and the lack of friends is a plague on me, I feel lonely and don’t know how to find friends to accept me." Godfrey is an AIDS orphan; his aunt has adopted him. This is typical for the thousands of children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. © Carol Allen-Storey
Macleen Kabugho. "I only have one friend. She is a neighbor and also HIV-positive. There are no other friends. I learned some time ago if I reveal my status, friends run away—they make me feel ugly, and unhappy. I didn't get AIDS because I wanted to; it happened and I don’t know why. Every day I have to take drugs to prevent my becoming ill. No one has ever explained how I got the virus and if I will ever be cured." © Carol Allen-Storey
Jaridah Bwego. "When I was six and an orphan, I was diagnosed HIV-positive. I have been on the ARV drugs, but they don’t work well. When I take them regularly, they give me a painful rash, so I stop taking them. Having no friends makes me feel very lonely and very angry. As soon as any friends find out I have the HIV/AIDS virus they run away. They think if they are close to me, they too will get the virus." © Carol Allen-Storey
Emmanuel Mugawe. "I have no friends except a few that I meet at the AIDS clinic where we can be open with one another—otherwise we are isolated and the stigma makes me feel sad because I didn't get AIDS because I was naughty." Emmanuel is an innocent AIDS victim. During her pregnancy, his mother was unaware that she was HIV-positive. Emmanuel was birthed at home and therefore did not receive the benefit of the mother-to-child prevention medication. © Carol Allen-Storey
Chrstine Kakyo. "Both my parents are HIV-positive. Although I have been on the antiretroviral drugs since I was 7, I only recently found out that I had the AIDS virus and that is why I had to take drugs. As with many women in this region, my mother birthed at home and therefore had no access to the mother-to-child prevention therapy. It was our poverty that prevented her to going to the hospital—my parents didn’t even have money for transport, let alone any fees from the hospital. The most frightening thing I know about AIDS is that if I don't take the drugs, I die! I know if the virus gets into the blood, it begins the process of destroying the body. At the Kilembe Mines AIDS Clinic, they counseled me not to fear the disease, as the drugs will assist us to live a good life. AIDS is contracted through sharing of blood, but I know it comes when 'people are looking for it' ... by having unprotected sex with partners who are ill with AIDS.
To help youth living with AIDS, I think there should be AIDS clubs—where we can enjoy each other and not worry about revealing our status.
Stigma is not an issue as I never reveal my status to friends ... I keep it secret so that prevents me from being isolated. Hopefully I can find a way to continue my studies as I want to become a nurse and help save lives." © Carol Allen-Storey
Amza Mbusa. "At the age of 7, I was diagnosed as being HIV positive and started a course of the ARV drugs, which I have been on for the last 10 years. I am sexually active with my girlfriend, who is also HIV positive. We do not have protected sex because we weren’t warned until now that, even if both partners are HIV positive, you still need to use protection as without it, the disease can become more virile." © Carol Allen-Storey