HIV/AIDs activist Doreen Moraa Moracha has revealed that she stopped taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs because of self-stigma.
The 31-year-old in a post on social media said she blamed her mother for her HIV positive status when she stopped taking ARVs in 2012.
Moraa noted she nearly died after she stopped taking ARVs but nonetheless, she learned the importance of self-acceptance.
“In 2012, I stopped taking my ARVs because I was struggling with self-stigma, I even blamed my mum for my HIV & I almost died from an opportunistic infection. To anyone struggling with self-stigma, ACCEPTANCE is a daily job take one day at a time but don’t let the tiny virus win,” Moraa wrote.
Doreen Moraa was born on August 8, 1992, to HIV discordant parents – her mother was HIV positive while her dad was HIV negative.
HIV discordance refers to a situation where one of the partners is HIV positive while the other is HIV negative
Moraa herself contracted the virus at birth.
“When I was born, my mom did not know she or I had HIV. I started getting sick in my sixth month. My parents and relatives assumed that I was bewitched because I was always sick,” Moraa said in a post on the International Aids Society (IAS).
Moraa added that her doctors told her parents that she would not live long when she was first diagnosed with HIV at the age of eight.
“When I was eight, I had herpes zoster. At the hospital, I was tested for HIV; that is how my parents found out I had HIV. The doctors told my parents, “We’re not going to give her a long time to live. If she reaches the age of 12 and can access medication, she will be okay. For now, just take her home and love her.” And they did. But they didn’t tell me I had HIV until I reached 13 and could access medication because this was when ARVs became freely available in Kenya. Before this, HIV medication in Kenya was for rich people only: it was expensive and they shipped it from Europe and America. A normal person could not afford it,” she added.
Doreen Moraa, who has been living with the virus since 1992, has never been shy to tell people that she is HIV positive.
Moraa publicly reveals her HIV status in a bid to end the stigma associated with the virus.
Public awareness drives to influence behaviour change and encourage openness; increase access to voluntary HIV testing and counselling; Promote increased condom use to reduce the spread of STD and HIV infections; Improve the treatment of people living with AIDS. [sic]
Moraa first went public about her HIV status in 2015 through a Facebook post, many people didn’t believe she was HIV positive when she made the announcement.
The HIV ambassador loves to give inspirational talks to those living with the virus. She talks and inspires people through her own story.
She encourages people to go for testing and adhere to medication to suppress the virus in most of her posts on social media.
The tricenarian is often seen taking her ARV medications in private and even in public in her posts on social media.