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says Alemnesh Ledamo


Alemnesh Ledamo

She is twenty-two years old. Because of her husband's death she lives alone with her five-year old child.

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Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regional States


Tilla Association of Women Living with HIV

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"I was born and grew up in Awassa. My father was a civil servant. I learned from Grade one to five in Hayik Oar Elementary and Junior High School. Then I learned up to Grade 7 living with my uncle in some rural town. I couldn't adapt to the rural life. So, I came back to Awassa and started working as a daily laborer." Alemnesh married a man who was also a daily laborer. "He continued to work as a laborer while I tend to the housework. Then he started to get sick frequently. Even if he went to both traditional and modem treatments, he couldn't get healed. Finally, he died." With the help of her family she started living with her daughter. "I was repeatedly sick. After a check up, I was told I had TB. Because my health condition became chronic, they told me to have an HIV test." When she first learned she had the virus, she was disturbed. She was especially concerned about her child. "I repeatedly made my child get tested and she is free. That made me very happy. I was exposed to the virus because I refused to listen to my parents' advice. I left my parents house saying they are not fulfilling my needs. It was a mistake to think I could meet my needs working as a daily laborer when I was only a child." Even if she regrets what she did, Alemnesh is happy that she is teaching the society. "When I teach, some say, "You don't have the virus." Some ask me to sleep with them. When I tell them I'm living with the virus, they say we can use a condom. Condom is an alternative, not the main preventive method.- Therefore, everyone should abstain from premarital sex." She believes there's a change regarding stigma and discrimination. "Nowadays, the people are used to shaking hands with and kissing (social) us. That's a good change. However, there's the problem in different forms. "People who live with the virus should be careful because additional virus will affect their health. Those who are free should take caution not to make their status temporary. My wish is to get healed and have another child. I believe it can happen."

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