Ethiopia: Tell Me A Story
Genet is a teen-age Ethiopian girl who had an unhappy childhood and left home at a young age. She settled in the Ethiopian city of Nazereth to start a new life for herself. But then Genet started feeling weak and sick. She went to a health clinic in Nazereth and tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
“When I saw the results, I was shocked,” she said. “I went into my room and cried a long while.” Rather than hide the fact that she was HIV-positive, Genet started to tell others about it. She did this for two reasons: 1) keeping it a secret was making her feel sad, and 2) she wanted to teach other Ethiopians about HIV/AIDS.
By disclosing her HIV status, Genet risked losing her friends and being treated badly by others. One person told her that she should “leave the village.” Some people think that HIV-positive people are bad and deserve to be sick. Others worry that they will get sick if they are close to someone with HIV/AIDS.
With support from IOCC and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Genet is telling people the truth about AIDS. She leads a tough life, but she is not letting her HIV status keep her down.
Genet said Ethiopians are slowly changing their attitude about HIV/AIDS and people living with the fatal disease. “People who never greeted me before have started to greet me,” she said. “Hiding oneself only hurts the person with the disease. A person who lives with the virus should not hide.”
As a result, Genet has more hope now than ever and a reason to live.