15 years and HIV Positive

Two months ago I traveled with my colleagues from World Vision for about one hour on a bumpy road to meet Stella.  We had been told that we were going to meet a child who is living with HIV and AIDS.  Though I have lived in country that has experienced HIV and AIDS for over 20 years and I work with an organization that interacts with HIV and AIDS patients, I was surpised to discover that I still have a mindset that that people with HIV and AIDS always have to be looking really sick. 


 


When we got to Stella's house, a beautiful healthy looking girl (15 years) came to meet us.  She could express herself in English pretty well and I was overwhelmed with emotions that such a beautiful girl could be HIV and AIDS positive!  I guess most of my colleagues felt the same way because we all kept telling Stella how beautiful she was!


 


Sitting down to chat with Stella made me appreciate what a mature and brilliant young girl she was!!  We asked her questions related stigma in her school and she told us she did not feel stigmatized by her schoolmates.  She told us that whenever she has an opportunity, she encourages her friends to go for HIV testing and counselling and she was surprised that the first time she encouraged a group of her friends to do so, some of them found out they were HIV positive.  She has started a club of children living with HIV.


 


Stella was born with HIV and it is amazing at 15 years she is so confident of a bright future and what a great contibution she has had on her peers at that age.  We thought we had gone to encourage her but we were challenged to live positive lives and have great HOPE for the future.  I am confident Stella will live a long life and she will be an influencial person in my country Uganda where 50% of the population is below 15 years!!