My relative used to disinfect my utensils after I finished eating – Doreen Moraa on HIV stigma

Doreen pours her heart out – She-life

Doreen Moraa Moracha - HIV stigma is on another level on social media

“I AM A BEAUTIFUL STORY” is her mantra and it’s what keeps Doreen Moraa Moracha moving on strong even when life seems to be at its worst. This, she tells us is always a reminder that even the hard times are part of her beautiful story.

You probably have already met Doreen on the streets of social media. Always wearing a broad smile, she never shies from sharing her status and addressing various issues relating to HIV/AIDS. Even though Doreen remains positive and has refused to be defined by her status, she tells Pulselive that the journey is not easy and one has to keep on adapting with time.

“I am 27 years old and I am an HIV/AIDS advocate. I also have a desk job in a telecommunications company as a customer service associate. I knew I was born with HIV but it was only disclosed to me when I was age 13. However, my parents knew about my status when I was age 8,” she tells us as we kickstart our interview.

Stigma – my relative would disinfect my utensils

Being only 13, Doreen did not receive the revelation about her status with shock probably because she was still quite young. Even when one of her relatives would disinfect her utensils after she finished eating, she never understood the reason behind it until much later.

“Growing up I experienced this relative who used to disinfect my utensils after I finished eating. I never understood why she did that until later on when I came to know about my status. Also sharing my story on social media brings about different opinions from people. At some point someone said my family is cursed, some say I’m using my HIV status to get money, and some even say I’m not living with HIV.” Says the 27 years old.

Instead of focusing on what people say about her, Doreen chooses to continue sharing her story even more so that people can change their narrative and perception towards people living with HIV.

And while she tries to be as accommodating as possible, she admits that there are times she can’t help but block at least two to three people a day who say mean things to her on social media. She, however, notes that people are more accommodating in real life but things are completely different on social media.

Visiting Loliondo to seek miraculous healing

Remember in 2010 when people flocked Loliondo village in Tanzania to get miraculous healing from Babu's portion? Doreen was not left behind. After drinking from Babu’s cup, she was convinced that indeed, she was healed. The virus was gone and there was no need to continue taking her ARVs. After all, the wonder concoction could heal all sorts of chronic diseases or at least that’s what people were made to believe.

Sadly, two years later, Doreen got very sick from pneumonia and that’s when it hit her that she had been living in denial. She was still HIV positive and the treatment had not done the magic it claimed to do. The realization hit her to the core and she admits that this was the lowest moment in her life.

To those living with HIV...

Doreen’s parting shot is a word of encouragement to the people living with HIV. She says, “The journey is not easy and there is no manual to living with HIV. You just adapt with time. Adhere to your ARVS and remind yourself that you are greater than HIV”.

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