“Had you told us at the very beginning, we’d have taken very good care of you,” Zuwera’s uncle told her, adding that, “we know we aren’t well off but despite that, we would not leave you helpless.”
For 11 years, Zuwera kept the secret that she was HIV positive because of the fear of stigmatization. She was 28 years old when she fell ill, so, she decided to see a doctor, who advised her to take an HIV test, which came out positive.
In her community, an HIV positive person is regarded as a walking corpse and that informed Zuwera’s decision not to tell anyone. Infact, she never told her parents till they died.
Tired of keeping her secret, she decided to tell her uncle. His response shocked her, so much that she cried.
“I can’t abandon you like this. We understand how much you’ve suffered. We will take care of you, the way God has instructed us,” Zuwera’s uncle told her.
According to World Health Organisation, Africa is the most affected region by HIV/AIDS in the world, particularly among young women. Sadly, millions do not know about their status, nor disclose it for the fear of being stigmatized.
“I can’t count the number of people that I have seen die. It is because of the stigma that people are not talking about it. They keep it as secret and infect more people,” Zuwera said, appealing to people who are HIV positive to come out and tell their stories.
Watch her speak here