June 28, 2016
Agenda 1.5 Report by the NGO representative
Presented by Angeline Chiwetani, NGO Delegate, Africa
Thank you, Chair.
Speaking from the perspective of a woman openly living with HIV, widowed at a very young age, l faced a lot of challenges in terms of both physical and social well-being. People prescribed lots of things to me in the early days of HIV and most of these negatively impacted on my right to development. They expected me to wait for death, but death up to today, has not come by. l faced gender-based violence and challenges in my matrimonial home. They forced me to pretend as if all was well, until the husband fell sick and later died of AIDS. I also got infected and lost self-esteem.
Similar to my experience, most of you here will agree with me that we have many young men and women who are getting infected with HIV. Most of them do not access health services due to HIV-related stigma, unfriendly environments, and more broadly, the difficult social and political environments we live in, that impede our exercise of our sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as our right to development – the right to education, right to healthcare, and the right to be free from poverty, among others. These rights are all inter-related and they are what makes us whole as human beings.
We have cases of child marriages where issues of rights should be flagged so high; in other scenarios, HIV-positive women were pre-sterilised without their knowledge, due to their HIV positive status. I just need to bring attention to the house that we are living in a global village, let us change our view of how we see things. This is all about human lives. (pictures shown here, brought reality closer home!!)
Continuing my story, close to 20 years ago, a certain Insurance company denied me Life Insurance Cover due to my HIV status. Fortunately enough, the same insurance companies have now come up with a special life cover for HIV positive people and only to find the person responsible for such is the very same person they denied access 20 years ago. We need these stories, because these stories change the way we perceive things. Let us open our hearts and minds and let us not wait too long, before it’s too late.