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 Saturday 15 December 2007
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Ali Mohammed: "If I go back to the drug, I will die"
November 2007 (PlusNews)

Photo: Keishamaza Rukikaire/IRIN
My hand is still recovering from a 'mis-shot' when I missed my vein
MALINDI, Ali Mohammed*, 36, who lives in the coastal Kenyan town of Malindi, has been addicted to heroin for 18 years, and is now HIV-positive. He spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about his life.

"The first drug I tried smoking was bang [marijuana], and then I moved on to brown sugar [heroin]. When white crest [crystal heroin] came to the coast, I started taking that; it was much cheaper than brown sugar and there was lots of it around.

"When I moved to Nairobi to work as a plumber, I found that smoking the cocktail [white crest mixed with marijuana and tobacco] was not working for me; it was not strong enough for the cold season, so I started injecting myself with white crest.

"When I first started, none of my friends knew AIDS could be spread through sharing needles; we did this regularly, and used the same needle several times. Then many of our friends began to die and we didn't know why. We later discovered that they had died of AIDS.

"When I moved back to Malindi I lived rough in empty houses around town, and my plumbing business went down because people knew I was an addict. I tried rehab several times but always failed to stay away from the drug.

Earlier this year I again sought help for my addiction at The Omari Project. They referred me for VCT [voluntary counselling and testing] because I had several other illnesses that were not related to the drug.

"I tested positive for HIV, and also tested positive for TB [tuberculosis]. To be honest, I was not surprised - so many of my friends had already died and I had suspected that I too was infected.

"When I got sick my aunt and her husband took me in. It was kind of them, but they have put me in this tiny, dark, dirty room far away from the family. It is Ramadan and I don't eat all day, even though I'm sick - I must wait for the family to break their fast in the evening.

"It has been a month since I was diagnosed, since I last took white crest. My hand is still recovering from a 'mis-shot' when I missed my vein and it got infected.

"I know this is my last chance. I am on TB drugs and will start on ARVs when I finish them. If I go back to the drug, I will die."


*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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Copyright © IRIN 2007
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.