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PROFILE: Sarah Aporo on sharing her HIV positive status

At only 22 years, Sarah Aporo took the brave step of sharing her HIV-positive status on social media. Aporo used the Facebook platform to post a video of her taking antiretroviral drugs.

Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E NANTABA | In the video, Aporo advises young people to test with their spouses before engaging in sexual intercourse to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDs.

“People have got too used to the virus that they do not mind testing with their spouse before engaging in a sexual intercourse only because of trust,” she said also adding, “Even HIV positive people should always be adherent to medication so we can have a longer life expectancy”.

Aporo says that she was a victim of trust without imagining that her love would be betrayed, paid with unfaithfulness, and infection with the virus. Aporo tested HIV positive after prompts from a friend who knew about a relationship with an HIV positive person in which Aporo’s fiancée was involved.

Even when the trumpet was sounded late – she had unprotected sex in November 2016, Aporo was pushed to test to calm her fears. Aporo says she chose not to test in December so she could enjoy the festive season in case things turned out bad.

When she went for the test on Jan.06, she says – like many others who go for tests – she was hoping for negative results. “I knew I had tested negative in October so I looked at the possibility of being infected as so low,” she says. But the result was positive. Aporo says that three other tests were done to confirm and as reality struck, she went to Naguru Hospital from where she was given reference to Uganda Cares to be enrolled on treatment.

Her next step was to break the news to her fiancée whom she met after several attempts. The meeting came after a week. She recalls that night turning out as one of the most horrible in her life. But her brother; whom she had opened up to, was present to comfort her. She says when she revealed the results to him, his response was only;  “That means I am also positive”.

Aporo had met her fiancée at church in her home town and had a sex-free relationship. When it ended, she moved into another relationship that also failed. At the same time her first fiancée was making advances for a second chance. This time she accepted to have sex.

“If you ever met him, you would never suspect him of cheating and when he’s talking, you cannot imagine otherwise,” she says, “so I kept in there with trust not until the day things turned out bad.”

Aporo says, on getting the bad news, her mind was drawn to the fact that she was to live on drugs for life.  So she pushed him to test and indeed the results were positive. She decided to make the relationship work and lead to marriage but he was not cooperative and she had to call off the relationship.

She says disclosing her HIV-positive status to her family was not easy. All family members were shocked but pledged total support. Aporo also chose to come out publicly for a reason.

“I looked at the people around me and the way they took HIV like it wasn’t part of them or they were immune to it,” she says.

She came out publicly in June and has also joined several networks of HIV positive people where they share experiences though most of them are virtual networks. This has also given her the strength to move on with the target of saving lives of young people; especially those who have a chance of reading her story online.

“The most important thing is for young people to be pushed to test,” she says.

Aporo is the last born of the seven children of Okwangi Amos (RIP) and Catherine Okwangi. She had her primary education at Francis Boarding primary school Lira, O’ Level at Wairaka College in Jinja and finished at Lubiri SS. She went to Makerere University Business School (MUBS) from where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree of science in Finance in January.

Sarah Aporo’s Liteside

Any three things we don’t know about you?

Sarah knows herself and what I am called to do in changing the world. I will always push hard no matter how hard it is and never let go until I succeed.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness is derived from cleaning up within; it makes one discover his or her strength and work on making a better person.

What is your greatest fear?

I fear what may happen to my body in case I don’t take my medication religiously.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I get to trust and believe people so fast because I expect the same in return from them. I wish I could be rigid of it in some instances.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Resentment that makes one fail to appreciate others.

Which living person do you most admire?

Barbara Kemigisa has really come from far to end HIV stigma and is so open about her status. She has given me the strength to move on and I am stronger with such people around me.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Things that used to be luxury to me are now mandatory for instance healthy eating. I am forced to eat in such a matter and I am grateful to God that I can still afford a balanced diet.

What is the greatest thing you have ever done?

Coming out publicly to disclose my status which has given me a peace of mind; you don’t know what it means to take medication in hiding. Having to hide it from my friends was something I couldn’t live with for long and that fear kills. I have since found peace with the choice I made and I am free at last.

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