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 Wednesday 03 October 2007
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Edward Gene, Kenya, "I couldn't believe she was HIV-positive and I was HIV-negative"
September 2007 (PlusNews)

Photo: AMREF
NAIROBI, Edward Gene* lives in the sprawling slum of Kibera, in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. He is HIV-negative but his common-law wife, Josephine*, is HIV-positive. IRIN/PlusNews spoke to the couple.

"When we met in 2000, I didn't know Josephine was HIV-positive. We started living together and had a son later that same year. In 2003, she told me she was infected - I was so shocked - and I was sure I was also infected.

"Initially I refused to go for a test, but after three weeks I agreed, and we went together to the MSF [Medecins Sans Frontieres] clinic in Kibera. When the result was negative, my first reaction was denial.

So I went for another test at the AMREF [African Medical and Research Foundation] clinic; it also showed I was negative, but they said I should go back in three months for another test. Even the third test showed I was negative, so I finally began to believe it.

"We started using condoms when having sex, and we joined a research programme at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

"I never thought about leaving her, even when I found out. I just want to make sure she remains healthy. I hope I can find work to earn a good living and support her and our son.


"When we met, I didn't know I was HIV-positive. Even when I had my child, I didn't know. In 2002, a mobile VCT [voluntary counselling and testing unit] came around where we lived, so I went. I didn't suspect at all that I could be infected; I was healthy and had no reason to think so.

"When the results came I was so scared. I didn't tell Edward because I thought he would leave me and our child.

"I started attending treatment literacy [classes] and counselling, where they taught us about disclosure. During this time, I spoke to Edward a lot about HIV. I kept asking him what he'd do if he discovered he was HIV-positive; he always said he'd just move on and take ARVs [antiretroviral drugs]. After all, he would say, it is no longer a death sentence.

"One day I plucked up the courage to tell him. His reaction was, of course, nothing like he'd said it would be. He became so thin, and wouldn't go for a test for a few weeks. When he discovered he was negative, he didn't believe it. I still don't think he completely believes it; he keeps saying it'll show up in a test one day.

"Since then he has been by my side. He's the one who reminds me to take my medicine, and he is always scolding me when I eat the wrong food.

"We are really not thinking about another child, but that is mainly because our economic situation is very difficult; but at least we have our son."


*Names have been changed


[The above testimony is provided by IRIN, a humanitarian news service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]

IRIN welcomes editorial and photographic submissions for inclusion on this page, reserving the right to select and edit as appropriate.
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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.