Helen Mukandutiye is a 26-year-old pharmacist who got infected with the HIV/AIDS virus when she was only nineteen years old. Seven years later, she lives positively and has nothing to regret. She narrates her story to The New Times Martin Bishop.
I grew up in a strict Christian family and my experience with men was very limited. When I met Steven my husband, he swept me off my feet right away! He possessed all the qualities of my ideal man; smart, handsome, kind, God fearing and a gentleman to the bone.
Though I loved him more than anything in the world, I wasn’t going to trust him blindly; he had to build the trust. When he agreed to meet my folks, all my fears were banished.
However, the more we become closer, I noticed something peculiar about him; his attitude towards sex was calculated.
When I first suggested I wanted to spend a night at his apartment, he flinched! When I insisted and demanded for a reason, he reluctantly gave in, I spent several nights with him, but he never showed any interest in sex, I provoked him countless times but all I could get was ‘honey , we have each other, there’s no need to rush’.
I begun to feel unattractive, no matter how much he convinced me that he loved me, I was not convinced. I confided in my friends about the situation. They did not help because they confirmed my doubts. “He is definitely cheating on you; he comes to you after meeting other women,”, “A man can’t be yours until he makes love to you, entice him! Make the first move!” they would say. I was confused.
Like a crazy woman, I demanded that he chose to either make love to me or let me go forever. The months that followed were total paradise! Our love grew stronger and we become so close.
A year later, everything was fine until visited my aunt. She asked me why I hadn’t conceived yet.
“Daughter your husband is a very educated handsome young man, if you don’t bear him children, someone else will,” she warned.
“But aunt, how can I conceive if we always use condoms?” I naively asked.
“But daughter be troubled no more, I’m not old for nothing, I have a key to that problem, learned people can sometimes be complicated, don’t say anything to him, just get a needle and pierce them all and leave them in their packets,” my aunt advised.
I thanked and hugged her admiring her shrewdness, but her advice set me on an early journey to my grave! Two months later, I got pregnant; I couldn’t wait to break the news.
When I announced the news to him, I expected him to jump, instead, he got shocked! Blood drained form his face! He becomes pale, for a moment I thought I was going to faint! He stood transfixed like a pole, he had totally forgotten about my presence!
“Honey you don’t love me, you don’t even care about this baby,” I was scolded amid tears. With that, I slammed the door and stormed out! That night, I was sleepless with loads of unanswered questions. I asked myself, how could anyone hate babies that much? How could my Stephen be this insensitive?
When we met the following day he was more composed and apologized for the way he reacted the previous night. But I could clearly see something was eating him up!
He asked me to sit down and that’s when he dropped the bomb! He had HIV!
That’s why was reluctant to make love to me, and when he did, he insisted on using condoms! I didn’t hear the rest, because I was unconscious. I woke up hours later surrounded by my sister and a few friends. I didn’t know what to do or say, so I blamed myself. I thought of committing suicide, but then thought of my baby.
The months that followed were hell on earth, I moved in with him, I lost weight, I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I even had to ask for a dead year at the university.
Stephen stood by me and assured me that everything was going to be fine. We both went for counseling and I was also introduced to ARV’s.
Today I look back and I cannot believe that I am the same person who wanted to take my life! I am healthy, I completed my studies and I am working. Every time I look at our first son, my heart swells with so much happiness.
I thank all my friends, family, doctors who put together the pieces of my life. To my husband, I can’t find the right words to express the love I feel for him.