As the world expects to celebrate its 28th AIDS day designed to create awareness on AIDS pandemic, Kenya is yet to make one HIV positive boy feel at home.
The heart-breaking story is about a HIV positive boy who was made to leave school in seme subcounty because of his HIV status. The 7-year-old boy’s parents, who are also HIV positive, said their son was HIV positive when he was born and has been on treatment.
The boy’s mom said she and her husband out of their own resolve decided to inform the school head teacher about their son’s HIV status before they sent him to school.
According to her, the head teacher was told 8 months ahead of the enrollment. The headteacher had said there was no problem, assuring them that their son was safe.
He promised to take upon himself to ensure he is protected, loved and taken care of like every other student. The head teacher also promised to create a conducive environment in school to enable him achieve his dream of becoming an ambassador.
Things seemed smooth within the next three months. The boy enjoyed his time in school. He became the teachers’ favorite student and was friend to all the pupils.
However, things took a different turn the moment the boy’s parents made their HIV status public during a HIV awareness campaign in the area.
Worried parents mounted pressure on the principle to expel the child. Mothers started to caution their children not to associate themselves with the boy.
All the friends he had made disappeared all of a sudden. The HIV positive boy became a lone man in school. His happy moods eventually changed to depression. Teachers and pupils started seeing him as a vulture bound to devour their dead souls.
Parents went to demand the removal of the young boy from school. It got to the point of most of them threatening to have their kids withdrawn from the school.
The headteacher had no other better option but to let the boy go. He banned the boy from entering the school premises, bowing to the pressure of the parents.
The HIV positive boy together with his parents relocated to Nyalenda slums in Kisumu where they enrolled their child in a new school and swore never to disclose their HIV status and their son’s too. They said it was for them to protect their only son.
One would think our generation has outgrown the stigmatization that comes with HIV. But we seems not anywhere close.
According to Kenya Stigma Index survey, HIV stigma and discrimination in Kenya is at 45%. To achieve zero stigmas by 2030, more HIV awareness needs to be done both in schools and out of school.
We hope we get to achieve this on time.