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says Medhanit Demssie


Medhanit Demssie

Twenty-two-years old. She was born and grew up in Shashemene. She was the fourth and the last child for her mother. She quitted school after her mother's unexpected death.

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Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regional States


Tilla Association of Women Living with HIV

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"From Grade one to eight I learnt at Abiyot Fire Elementary and Junior High School. I had a boy friend in the same school. We passed some time together after school. We used to have sex. W e were using condom not to protect ourselves from HIV/AIDS but to prevent pregnancy." "Even when I passed to Grade nine, I was with my boyfriend. But just after my mom's death I quitted both school and being together with my boyfriend. I often quarreled with my brother and sisters because I quitted school. It was at this time that I accepted a marriage proposal without hesitating. I got married and came to Awassa. "However, our marriage didn't last long. My husband became seriously sick. Though he got medical treatment, he couldn't recover. He passed away. It was said that the causes of his death were yellow fever and typhoid. But this couldn't make me free from my doubts. With the advice of one of the members of Tilla Association, I got a blood test." The result was as Medhanit expected. She learned that the virus is living in her. Then she became a member of Tilla Association. "The main mistake that exposed me to the virus was marrying a person whom I didn't know well. Knowing I have the virus in my blood helped me a lot. Now I live carefully. I keep away from things that can cause me illness. Moreover, I live on the money that I get from teaching about the virus." From what she experienced, she shared us the following incident: "One day, after I got tested and knew the result, I was going to Shashemene to tell my family about the result. I started talking with a man who was sitting beside me in the bus. When we reach Shashemene, my traveling mate got off the minibus with me and invited me to tea. Even if I tried to leave him telling him I was in a hurry, he insisted. Because I understood what he was after from the way he was acting, I politely declined his invitation. He couldn't hear of it. Then I opened my purse and showed him the result paper that I was taking to show to my family. Without raising his eyes he thanked me and went. "There is change regarding stigma and discrimination. But in terms of behavioral change, I feel the change is not that much. You cannot know a person who lives with the virus with your eyes. The result of having unsafe sex with a person you just happened to meet will be tragic."


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