THE TRIUMPH OF AN AMAZING MAN LIVING WITH HIV- PART ONE, RICHARD AMUOK

STIGMA – YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED!

A lot of people talk about HIV based on their understanding of the literature they may have gone through or as a result of having observed a suffering relative/patient that had been attacked by opportunistic infections and underwent tremendous pain, but few speak out of experience living with the virus.

When I first tested positive for HIV the impact was enormous! That result accelerated a collection of toxic emotional states that were both intense and chronic. In short I was filled with:

 Intense fear

 Intense shame

 Intense guilt

 Intense helplessness

 Intense hopelessness

Such intense emotions are actually what undermines and knocks out a person’s natural defences due to the constant feelings of hurting.

During this period a pattern slowly developed where I stopped eating well, stopped sleeping regularly, and stopped taking care of myself. The only thing I thought of during this period was getting sick and dying. The worst feeling was that I had failed in maintaining the family’s integrity. In my mind I was preparing to die. Everything was over and I noticed that even the people that surrounded me, that had knowledge of my status, also had expectations that I was on my way to the grave.

I thought I would never be loved or love again and in fact stayed away from women for a whole two years not getting intimate with anyone! I believed I would never be touched freely, and I would never kiss again and I just became horrible thinking myself being a walking dead person.

During that period I noticed that everything around me was conspiring for me to get ill and die. I thought that everyone including the health workers I sought help and advice from, the doctors giving me prescriptions, the government, NGO’s and donor funding agencies were all sure of my death and appeared willing to help me go through that sad noble path to my death as long as I stayed in that path and played the role of a victim.

Although that path seems noble and attractive, to me it’s like giving up! Deep down I believed that God would never make me a victim of anything but would make me a victor in everything.

After hiding in the worst of slums in Mombasa for a whole year, I finally saw that the power of HIV/AIDS is the belief of death that people have given it and it is propagated mostly by stigma.

After some intense soul searching, I looked back at the blessings that God had bestowed on me in the form of talents and decided to use those in a way that may help other people to overcome the fear of getting tested and to overcome the intense toxic feelings one gets when they receive the diagnosis results for the first time. In short I started viewing the HIV as a blessing and have never looked back.

Today I am here praising and thanking God for HIV because instead of killing my spirit it has actually given me more reason to stay alive. This is survival of the fittest. I am surviving in my own way with the help of medication and everyone else is surviving in their own unique way even if HIV negative. At the end of the day we have different destinies and purposes to fulfill in this world and I believe that HIV/AIDS is my purpose on earth.

I want to urge the people living with the virus to live their lives to the fullest. If you had a dream, don’t let it die because you tested positive, Know that you are GREATER than HIV/AIDS. Do not give the scourge any power, you must stand up and declare that you are greater than the enemy. In this kind of war that we are in, we must face the enemy without fear because the enemy thrives on fear.

The more we fear, the more this disease will be transmitted by those that have it and don’t know their status because they fear knowing it. This creates more chances for those that are not infected yet to get infected in due course. It’s a silly thing that HIV is viewed the way it is simply because it is sexually transmitted. Sex is very normal/natural whereas the virus is not! Its that simple.

Its high time we stop the empty talk on matters of stigma and let pro activity and action take effect. Political parties whether in opposition or in the government should show support to the millions who have been infected or affected by the virus, and the irony of the matter is that we are gaining the numbers!

About Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez

Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez is an International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . He is also The CEO of AFRICA4U and The Founder of Africans in The Diaspora People also see him as a Cultural and Social entrepreneur, which means he is skilled in working with many different communities, bringing people together in successful focused events. Tony has organised many cultural events …involving both BME and mainstream communities. He is skilled in hosting events that reinforce community cohesion and bringing different kinds of people together. He has organised events in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Romania, Malta and Nigeria and has visited over 22 European Countries. Tony has also organised The Black History Month Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for over five years in a row He continues to promote the true life and success stories of Africans in Europe and Africans around the world and has organised several small scale literary and awards initiatives aimed at empowering young people. He has also spent time as an International broadcaster and was The Producer and Presenter for AFRICA4U International Radio Talk Show at Reading4u Radio Station for nearly three years. Tony has interviewed high profile Members of Parliament, Distinguished celebrities and some of Africas best musicians including Ivonne Chaka Chaka and Kanda Bongoman. He has also been a guest on BBC Radio on numerous occasions to discuss the community cohesion events he organises at UK House of Parliament and also to recite some of his published work in memory of Nelson Mandela, 50 Years Anniversary of The race relations act and major community issues. Tony has also a Guest on popular Radio stations in Nigeria and The States In the last few years he has been very passionate about Youth empowerment, community cohesion and cultural intelligence. Tony was born in South London and has lived in several parts of England and Nigeria . He started writing at the tender age of nine, a habit he expressed with creative enthusiasm. Tony writes Poetry, short stories and proverbs on personal development. He is currently working on his 4th book which will also be his first novel. He is also into Public Speaking at Special events and Social functions and is a Mentor for young people in the UK Community. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Lagos, Nigeria in English and World Literature. He later went on to attain a teaching qualification at The Frances King International Training Institute, South Kensington London, it was here he studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He also studied Web Design at The City University in London. He published his first book in June 1999 called “The Beauty in the Dark” (A Collection of Poetry which received critical acclamation in many circles around the world). .Tony’s aim in life is to inspire the young generation and to encourage the youth to make the very best of their dreams and aspirations,. He published a 2nd book in June 2009 called ” The Sound of Running Water” – A Family gift book of proverbs and quotations on Personal Development and Positive Thinking . In December 2009, he published his 3rd book called “One Moment of Peace”.- A collection of Poetry inspired by personal experiences and spiritual growth. Besides the fact that the Artist has won International online awards, he is mostly inspired by Life experience, love, music and cultural awareness. He was Resident Poet at the 5th London Poetry Festival in 2009 and has been a guest on BBC Radio on very many occassions including The famous Anne Diamond Show. He has also been a guest on a few SKY TV stations and several International Radio Stations around The World
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