I am a trans-woman living in Kisumu County and I am HIV positive. I dropped out of school when I was 13 years old because I was never at peace in there. Everyone was making fun of me. Both teachers and students at my school used to say I was possessed with demons and I needed to be preached upon so that the demons in me that made me act like ladies could get out of me. Others kept saying I needed to see a doctor so that they could correct my condition and yet I wasn’t sick. I was frequently bullied in school and no one came to my rescue.
At home things were just the same as in school. I could hear my parents argue at night in their room that I was a product of infidelity and that the gods had punished my mother by giving her an evil and cursed child. The community around me was so mean and heartless to me. They never even cared about how I felt as a human being. In fact they never saw me as a human being. To them I was like an animal.
I was raped twice by people whom I knew very well. They said they were trying to correct me so that I could become manly and straight. I reported the incident to the police but no action was taken. The guys that did this inhumane act to me were hostile to me and threatened to kill me. I was forced to run away from home and live in the streets.
The experience was really excruciating. As a human being I really felt like I was nothing. I felt like I was all alone in this world. There were so many times I wished I were dead so that I could rest peacefully in my grave free from all the hate towards me.
Life was so hard in the streets. I had to make friends with other people who were like me and we decided to become sex workers. I didn’t know that in the streets of Kisumu there was a lot of rape and abuse. I was rapped again in the streets and I got infected with the virus.
I have lost 8 of my friends to HIV/AIDS since 2014. All of them could not access health care facilities for treatment due to the stigma and discrimination. I am lucky because I accepted my status and I got help without fearing and am taking my medication on time.
HIV prevalence among young gay men and trans-women in Kisumu County is high. It is estimated that 1 in 5 men who have sex with other men or trans-women in Kisumu County is HIV positive. Lack of knowledge about HIV and ways of preventing it is one of the main causes of high HIV prevalence. There is also a lot of self-denial.
There is need to provide this vulnerable group with quality and accurate information on sexual reproductive health and rights and also access to quality and free HIV and STI testing, counseling and treatment that is free from stigma and discrimination.