By Curthbert Kigozi
“Late at night, my mother took me and my twin sister Eva Nakato outside our house telling us how she had an important message for us.
Sitting between us on a bench, she started by telling us of how our blood was different and we were HIV positive,” Robinah Babirye recounts.
It was a bitter pill for the twins to swallow as they kept on probing their mum with a series of questions how it all happened.
‘’During her pregnancy, she was underwent a blood transfusion with unscreened blood and only discovered after delivery.’’ Babirye’s mother however died from cervical cancer in 2013.
It was heart breaking for her and her twin sister Nakato to know that among their five siblings, it was only them with HIV.
Babirye adds that as a family, they were in it together and her other negative siblings were supportive.
Coping up with the stigma
Discovering her status at nine years, Robinah found it hard to open up about her situation to her friends at school.
She always thought HIV was meant for the adults or even criminals.
Death was the only thing that would occupy her mind to an extent that whenever someone died in the neighborhood, it would ring a bell in her mind contemplating to be next.
At school, a friend of hers landed on her medication and prescriptions and came to understand about her status. Hanging in fear of what her response would be, Babirye was surprised that her friend still gave her a shoulder to lean on and kept it a secret.
On joining university in 2013, friends were no longer loyal as she recounts on her memories at campus being the most stigmatizing; a killer, murderer, heartless is how some friends would described her.
Bereft with hope, she met Asia Mbajja Namusoke Executive Director People In Need Agency who lit a candle of hope in her heart.
Together with Namusoke, Babirye has attended several Aids conferences one being in Melbourne Australia 2014 that gave her confidence to speak about her status to the public and spread a message of hope and sensitization to people living with HIV and those that are negative.
The bachelor’s degree holder in community based rehabilitation has since used music, drama, film and her social media network platforms to give hope and happiness among people living with HIV as she hopes a cure should be discovered soon by researchers.
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