I wish my parents talked to me about sex-Juliet Otieno

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I wish my parents talked to me about sex-Juliet Otieno

I wish my parents talked to me about sex-Juliet Otieno
Juliet Otieno, 31, was infected with HIV soon after Form Four. Drunk in love and naïve, she could not resist the charms of her boyfriend

Juliet Otieno, 31, was infected with HIV soon after Form Four. Drunk in love and naïve, she could not resist the charms of her boyfriend

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At 31, Juliet Otieno has been to hell and back. Behind her beautiful smile enhanced by the gap in her teeth, she hides the effects of the tragedies that have hit her since she was barely 10 years old. Otieno, who is living positively, says she chooses not to dwell on her past that included sexual violation and infection with HIV.

Like most of her peers, she dreamt of going to college after secondary school and perhaps finding a suitable man. And she found one she thought was perfect. “I had many suitors who I rejected, but in Form Four, I met one guy who stood out. He didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs.

He was patient and acted like the perfect gentleman. For the first time in my life, I went to the movies, courtesy of him. He literally swept me off my feet,” says Otieno. Drunk in love and naïve, she could not resist the charms of her boyfriend who was at the time the envy of many girls.

“I gave in, on condition that we would do it with a condom,” she says. What followed after the sexual intercourse is something that changed her life forever. ‘“Sweetheart, I removed the condom in the process. So whatever is in you is in me’. He said to me, shortly after sex in 2000.

Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with an STI, which was treated with his support. I didn’t tell my parents,” she says. As she would learn later, Otieno got more than a pregnancy during her first ever sexual intercourse.

“Being madly in love I continued to see him and only realised that that I was expectant fourth months into the pregnancy. It was during one of the visits, I was also diagnosed with HIV. At the request of the doctor, my boyfriend also tested positive for the virus,” she says.

She guesses that the man used her innocence to knowingly infect her with the virus. “The positive tests instigated acts of physical violence. He would fly into fits of rage and beat me up. The counsellor I was seeing at the time said we should separate, if only to save the life of the unborn child that I was carrying,” says Otieno.

Luckily, she was able to meet other people that were going through the same and they provided a shoulder to learn on. It also created an opportunity to network and those sessions opened doors that she could never have dreamed of.

She gave birth a few months after separation, but the baby died five moths later from pneumonia. Otieno did not take the necessary precautions. Fearing that people may know about her HIV status, she never attended pre-natal clinics where would have received drugs to prevent mother-child transmission.

“Until this point, no one in my family knew that I was HIV positive,” she says. Otieno says she was overwhelmed with grief, loss and stigma and lived in ‘the shadow of death’. “My community believed that since my baby had died, any contact I had with other babies would kill them as well. I finally succumbed to depression,” she says.

One of the medical doctors took pity on her and paid for a hairdressing course. She also got heavily involved with various NGOs working with people living with HIV. “I worked at a salon for five months, clutching at whatever source of hope would give me a reason to continue living,” she says.

However, the renewed strength did not last long as she suffered a stroke. The stroke also left her unable to walk and write. This means she had to re-learn all the things she took for granted before. In 2005, she started taking ARVs and her health improved and stabilised. She says determination and hope for a better life gave her the will to go on.

“I went through a period of grieving my losses and found the strength to forgive myself and those that contributed to my situation. I got rid of the bitterness that had weighed down heavily on me, poisoning my soul. She says the process of forgiveness has enabled her to travel lighter in life’s journey.

Otieno walks in a limp, but says that does not bother her. “Even though I now walk with a slight limp and my right hand has atrophied over time due to the stroke, I am grateful for the gift of life,” she says. One of her greatest wish is that parents talk to their children about sex and not leave this important task to teachers, who are already overwhelmed with the school curriculum.

“I hope that my story educates and inspires you to make informed decision about your life,” she says. Otieno, who is currently a student at Daystar University, hopes that humanity would also be more forgiving and sensitive to the needs of those who need help. “I am here today because of the generosity and kind-heartedness of people that I have met along the way,” she says.

Source-mediamaxnetwork.co.ke

 

I wish my parents talked to me about sex-Juliet Otieno

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