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says Gebeyanesh Abebe


Gebeyanesh Abebe

Her parents are farmers in a place out of Arba Minch. Since there was no school there, she went to Arba Minch to her uncle. She learned up to Grade five in Arba Minch.

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Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regional States


Tilla Association of Women Living with HIV

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"When I was in Grade five, I went to Shashemene with my first husband. He was a driver. We had one child. Our marriage didn't hold out till the end. We couldn't agree. I took my child and the money that I got as a compensation and left." With the little money she started to trade. "I used to trade contraband goods coming from Moyale area. Taking my child wherever I go was not suitable for the trade. Hence, I went back to Arba Minch and gave it to my uncle. I returned back to my trade. In the middle, a driver in some government office took me to Shakisso to live with him. He opened me a shop there. Then he became seriously sick and died. I didn't know the cause of his death then." She then married for the third time and bore a child. The marriage wasn't a success. Her husband went to the war front during the Ethio-Eritrean conflict and never came back. With her two children she started to struggle with life. "After the death of my second husband, my child and I didn't feel well. At that time there was a lot of information given about AIDS on radio and TV. I talked to health professionals and took the blood test. Then I knew I've the virus." Now she is a member of Tilla and lives with her two children. She has ten and eight year-old girls. "During the time I first married, I was not aware of AIDS. Even if I was aware, it was difficult to say in marriage, I don't want to have sex. The main mistake was, we got married without first having a blood test. If we had the test, both of us would have been benefited." Gebeyanesh thinks discrimination still exists in a different form. When her landlords learned her condition, they failed police to force her leave the house. "In general, there's change. We, who live with the virus, don't isolate ourselves as before. The society doesn't stigmatize us openly. That is a great change. Regarding behavioral change, I see much has to be done. My experiences can prove this. "After my husband's death, I used to go to this one government office. I had some business there. The person who was in charge had some interest in me. When he understood he couldn't get what he wanted, he became malicious. Even after I told him that I'm living with the virus. Because he is still disappointed with me, my business is not settled. This man should have helped me when I told him the truth. But he complicated the matter. "The society should give the necessary support and care for us who are living with the virus. It's then that it'll be possible to put an end to the problem. The other messages I've is that the army should be given a wide education and advice. They move from place to place. After a mission they live with the society. That's why."


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