The day sugar mummy infected me with HIV
Kimutai Kemboi reveals how he overcame despair after finding out he was Hivpositive to being an anti-stigma campaigner
“Your testing kit is faulty!” were the first words that 26-year-old Kimutai Kemboi uttered when an HIV test he took ‘to pass time’ turned out positive.
That was two years ago. He was walking home one day when met a group of youth counsellors conducting mobile voluntary counselling and testing and one of them asked him to get tested.
He was confident of a negative result but took the test anyway.
When asked to interpret his results about ten minutes later, the two lines that meant that he was Hiv-positive caused a dizzy spell. He assumed it was because he had skipped lunch that day and he walked out of the clinic deaf to exhortations by counsellor to return.
That night, he wrestled with thoughts looking for answers on the likely source of his HIV infection.
As he filtered the answers on his mind, he resolved to take repeat tests as a confirmation that the previous HIV test was defective.
“It was a long night,” he remembers.
A first, second, third and fourth test the following morning confirmed he was Hiv-positive.
He sat through the counselling sessions but most of the time he just stared at the ceiling. He was sad, bitter, confused and angry!
A quiet moment of introspection that evening took him back to a period when an older woman had employed him at her home the previous year.
He recalled the promise of a better life vanished when his hostess lost her job and she relocated to her rural home leaving young Kemboi stranded.
He turned to menial jobs to save money that could sustain him.
“I got infected by an older woman. It was just one encounter. I was naive and believed that she would pay for my studies.”
“I hated her. I wanted to revenge. How could she destroy my life?
“One thing that disturbed me the most was that she intentionally infected me. I thought of a way of revenging but with time I forgave her. She died the same year from opportunistic infections.”
For 10 months, Kemboi did not share his HIV status with anyone but this secretive live became unbearable.
But he chose to rise above it. “What was meant to kill me turned out to be a condition that could be managed.”
Today, this second year Computer Science student at Catholic University of East Africa is creating HIV awareness among his peers.
His message is clear: relationships with sugar daddies and mummies make young people vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
November marks the second anniversary since he knew his HIV status and he admits that it marked his life’s turnaround since he went public about his HIV status in January this year.
“I kept anti-retrovirals and antibiotics hidden because I did not want to questions from my room mates and friends,” he says.
The isolation did not last long and he decided to share his status with his elder brother who informed their family members.
“The power of love from my mother and siblings restored my hope in life. They encouraged me and opened the door through which I shared my HIV status with the world,” says Kemboi who is the last born in a family of five.
He joined the Anza Sasa programme that encourages those who test Hiv-positive to get ARV treatment regardless of their CD4 count.
In the past, only those with a CD4 count of 500 and below were eligible for treatment. CD4 is a laboratory test that measures of how well the immune system is working.
Kimutai Kemboi, 26, during the interview at the Nation Centre on Thursday.