Teenager's Stories: Sharing the Load

John is 15-years-old and has received care for his HIV infection at one of our clinics in Kenya for the past 8 years. He tells me a story about learning that you have HIV:

I had a friend, David, who never knew that he was positive, but he used to come to AMPATH. One day while in the clinic, his mother went out of the office with the doctor.  I don't know why. The doctor was going to bring something from outside the office.

Then it happened that David opened his file, and he found that he was positive. He screamed. The doctor came back and asked David, "What is happening?"

He asked the doctor, "Why did you not tell me that I have AIDS?" The doctor told him to calm down and let me explain. The boy replied, "No need of explaining. I already know that I'm going to die. Mum used to lie to me that I'm having TB, but it is a lie -- now I'm going to die."

The boy cried. He is in form one. He cried.  He cried.  Then, the mum called me, "John, come."

David never knew that I was positive, but his mum knew. He only knew that we used to meet at AMPATH, knowing that I was the same as him, having TB. He never bothered to ask, "Why are you still coming to AMPATH?"

So I told him, "David, this is what is happening. Yes, you are HIV positive, but you should not be complaining. We all know that God has a reason for everything." Then he asked me, "You too are positive?"

I told him, "Yes, I'm positive. I'm living positively as you can see."

"How long?" he asked me.  I told him it has been very long that I have known, since I was 7. Then he smiled, and he was crying at the same time and smiling. I asked him what is so funny that you are smiling. He told me that he can't imagine that I am not dead.

"No." I said. "I'm not going to die until I become a very important person in this country."

Then he asked, "Does this mean that I'm going to live and be as healthy as you are?"

I told him, "Of course, David. Nobody is going to die unless you stop taking your ARVS. You need to adhere to drugs."

"At least I have a reason to smile now," he said. I had to tell him, of course, you are going to live. But he is still not happy with his mum for not telling him. I'm trying my best to make him forgive the mum and to get on with their lives.


I am rooting for them both to live long and to become important men in this country.

Posted at 15:32

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