The Story Of Maria: Stigma, Discrimination Kills And Destroys Families

“Stigmas and discrimination destroys our lives, prevents us from accessing treatment and force us to remain silent and that’s the biggest problem. If we don’t speak up, HIV will continue to grow” said Letio.

By Evelyn Letio

JUBA, 04 March 2016 [Gurtong]: Ms. Evelyn Letio, Chairperson of the National Empowerment of Positive Women United (NEPWU) approached one of the HIV/AIDs patients Ms. Maria and tells us her story.

Ms. Evelyne said the story of Maria shows that infected women are victims of double discrimination, arguing that there is need to speak out about discrimination.

“……..Stigmas and discrimination destroys our lives, prevent us from accessing treatment and force us to remain silent and that’s the biggest problem. If we don’t speak up, HIV will continue to grow” said Letio.

Below  is the story of Maria that she shared with the media through Ms. Evelyn.

Maria, a 27 years old woman married a very rich man in Kajokeji as a second wife. At the time of their wedding, both did not know their HIV status. Maria had 4 children and it was during her 5th pregnancy that she started feeling ill. She dismissed it, thinking it was just the pregnancy making her feel tired and sick.

After delivery, the weakness continued. One day while at the market, she heard the women talking about HIV and how to prevent it. She then made up her mind to go for HIV testing without consulting the husband. The result came out HIV+, she then confided in the husband. Immediately she was chased from her home with all her 5 children.

Her husband called her a prostitute and said she had no respect for the husband and has discredited the husband and the whole family. Her parents came to the in-laws to settle the issue but were turned away shamefully. The husband filed a case for divorce and the court granted the divorce without hesitation. When Maria’s family asked about the children, her husband denied the innocent children swearing that he will not even give a penny in support of the children.

He stood by his words; the children dropped out of school and became destitute. The children of the first wife tried to plead for their brothers and sisters but in vain. Sometimes the eldest son would in the absence of the father steal money and some food items from the shop and take to the step mother for his brothers and sisters. When the father learnt of this he had his son arrested and locked in for 2 days.

All these affected Maria so much. Despite the continuous counseling and material support from the fellow women living positively, she never recovered until she passed away. Her mother, who was helping with the children also passed away. The children remained destitute orphans, the oldest girl child taking up the responsibility of mother and father to her siblings.

Thus ignorance, stigma and discrimination took the life of Maria too early and has destroyed the future of her children. Who knows what the girls might end up doing to survive. In most cases like these, the girl child ends up as a sex worker in order to survive and help raise the siblings. In return, she could also get infected with HIV and the cycle of vulnerability will continue to repeat itself.


We should all do our part to prevent HIV related stigma and discrimination. HIV does not discriminate, why should we?

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