He’s 17. But he was barely a teen-ager when his parents separated. He felt like his dad left him for another girl. And he eventually lived with his dad, and his girl. He felt alone, he went back to his mom but again, he felt alone.
He’s 17. Life was hard. The broken family left him alone. Life was hard, he breathed poverty. He ate poverty every single day. He was forced to go to sex work. He’s 17. Sex work was his way of bringing food to the table to feed his younger siblings–and his mom.
He’s 17. He tested positive for HIV. His world came crumbling down, as if his world hasn’t crumbled time and time again right before his very eyes. He ignored his status. He did not seek treatment. He’s young, vulnerable and alone.
He’s 17. That was 2 years ago. Now he has enrolled into treatment. He still cries every time he tells his story. He feels his present is the fault of his parents. He struggles each day to find strength from his friends, but not his family.
He’s 17. He brought food to the table, he worked for the family. And now, they won’t use the same utensils that he’s using. He ignores the stigma and discrimination around him, as he knows he can’t go elsewhere since he didn’t have any place to go. He cannot tell them when and if he feels sick. They blame him for what happened to him. They tell him he deserves HIV.
He’s 17. He was 17, and now barely 20. He’s fighting each and every day. Fighting is his priority, living becomes his 2nd. He smiles and laughs with his peers. He’s all broken inside. He supports other people living with HIV. He finds comfort with the HIV community.
He was 17. He’s HIV positive. He lives to tell others to be strong. He inspires others.
What’s your story?