Earlier this month, Media personality, Mary Ero shared a post on her Instagram page on how a singer, Banky W came to her help at her lowest moment.
She recalled how her daughter’s father abandoned her when she was 6 months pregnant and diagnosed as HIV positive. She also lost her job and got evicted from her home.
In a chat with Wazobia Max, Mary shares more on her journey as a single mum living with HIV.
How she got the illness
When I was 14, I was sexually abused by my grand uncle who was a priest and it had a ripple effect all over my life and I didn’t even know that I was reacting to it until much later. I couldn’t even talk about it until 14 years later. I only told a teacher in school because how do you tell someone that your grandmother’s brother succeded in sleeping with you and also punish you if you refused?
So, over those 14 years, I began to rebel. In some ways, I was easy because there was something I was searching for and that something I need to say now. Usually, when there’s a young girl who seems promiscuous and angry, check that girl, she has been abused and the funny thing is the statistics in Nigeria tell us that one in three girls have been sexually abused.
So along the way, maybe that was where I got the illness (HIV). I was in hiding for a long time, so I was ashamed. But once I came out, I was received with so much love and it was overwhelming.
Why she came out as HIV survivor
I left a job I was doing in 2014 to take care of myself. So, I started attending a public hospital for treatment but the way they treated people was so bad that at a time I contemplated suicide. We had to wait like 5am in the morning and wait for three to four hours to see the doctors at 9am.
When the doctor comes in, he won’t even look at you, he’ll just be focused on your card while asking what the problem is. Sometimes, when you are called for your card and you don’t answer on time, the doctor will just throw your card on the floor. So many things they were doing. Then I noticed that people that were receiving treatment in public hospitals are people from the lowwer class. There was no rich person so, obviously, the rich were getting treated somewhere else.
And then, you had to wait that long on that and then if you were on drugs, you had to be on another line, so, imagine sleeping in that kind of situation. I told myself that I would never take drugs because they’ll wait for your CD4, which is the amount of virus in your system to lower before they give you drugs because the drugs are not many and that is the normal practice, so, they practically wait till you’re dying.
It’s an African thing because we don’t get our drugs from Nigeria, the drugs are sent in by donor agencies and so they have to limit it to those who actually need it.
So, I thought that if I got to that situation, I would rather die than stay in another line and be treated like an animal again. And there are many people outside who are taking that option and sticking to it, who are saying they will rather die than go to the hospital and undergo abuse and that’s why the disease is spreading.
I also wrote to a website I saw online and I told them I wanted to commit suicide because I was tired of it all. Luckily, they responded and sent me to a private hospital and there I was treated well. There, I was given proper counselling with drugs.
So until people like me came out and said that we were just sick and did not kill anyone, then people started taking the treatment seriously.
Watch the full interview below