From the depths of distress, disillusionment, dejection and the certainty of untimely death occasioned by HIV infection through blood transfusion at the tender age of 12, Gloria Asuquo, has risen to become a vibrant, assertive and ambitious young woman who is taking a decisive and incisive battle to one of the world’s most dreaded infectious disorders – HIV/AIDS.
In an encounter with Sola Ogundipe in Abuja, the energetic 24-year-old recounted the frustrations of living as a pauper in addition to the ignominy of HIV stigma and discrimination.
Today, Gloria who once contemplated death until sheer luck and doggedness turned her fortunes around and brought unhindered access to the elusive, life-saving treatment has undergone a transformation. The same HIV infection that took her to the brink of total despair is today a source of her blessing. How did it happen? She tells it all in this encounter.
I’m a young person diagnosed HIV positive at 12. I was in Primary six going to JSS1. I got infected through blood transfusion. The stigma was so much I couldn’t bear it. There were drugs at that time, but they were too expensive for my parents to afford. Each time my father raised the money to pay for my drugs, my mother would challenge him. Why are you giving her the money? she would ask. We know that she would soon die. Why is she taking the drugs? Why are we wasting money? My mother went to the Church and told the Reverend who announced my status to the community.
He advised I should be taken to one of the General Hospitals and abandoned there to die. But my father refused to heed such advice. Rather, he challenged the Reverend to take one of his four children to the hospital and abandon her there to die first, only then would he obey the instruction. The pressure became too much.
My mother separated me from the rest of the family. She demarcated my own part of the house separate from the others. The stigma became too much.
Escape from home
One day I could not bear it again. The pressure was too much for me to bear. I had to break the window and jumped out to escape from home at the age of 12. I escaped to an unknown village called Oki. I went to Jabi Park in Abuja, I had only N800. I didn’t know where to go, but just wanted to leave and even die.
I wanted to die. I was in the bush; I had stopped using my drugs which at that time cost N15, 000 per month. Test for CD4 count was N6, 000, viral load N12, 000. Where was I going to get that kind of money? I wasn’t working, I just told God to let me die.
Before then, I went to NTA and shared my story. I told them I was HIV positive; I wanted to declare my status to the world. They said I should cover my face, but I said no. I wanted the world to know my story so that if I die, everyone would know what killed me. Breaking the stigma is an individual thing. If you want to come out to testify, nobody can take that away from you
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/hiv-infection-is-a-blessing-to-me-says-gloria-asuquo-24-diagnosed-hiv-positive-at-12/#sthash.QmqwrczD.dpuf