04 Mar 2006- Living with hiv is something that most of African gay men have come to accept but its all about three things in one and that’s being gay, hiv and being in the closet.
Its now become a well known thing that there are a lot of African gay men living with hiv abroad and looking at where they are coming from, most of these gay men are still very much in the closet.
Sam aged 32 from Kenya and Thomas aged 35 from Uganda speak out on Africanveil about their experience and how they are coping living with hiv and being in uk. Thomas has been in uk for over six years and been living with hiv for two and half years. It’s not about where you got the virus from or who passed on to you, that’s does not help, its about accepting and moving on, but the hardest part is moving on because one has to remain silent about what they are going through.
London is very diverse, welcoming and more civilised in a lot of things. But its hard to find fellow Africans to talk to in organisations and health centres.
Sam from Kenya went on to explain that when you are talking about hiv its not like talking about STDs or Malaria, this is a virus we are living with and when it comes to talking about it with someone for example at the health centres or hiv clinics, its much easier to speak to someone in the same position as well as being African and understanding the concept of being gay and hiv and being in the closet too.
Doctors will always be doctors, they will always prescribe all the medication scientifically but do they really experience how an hiv patients feel or they just know? I must say there are a lot of African gay men diagnosed everyday in the uk, but how many health centres and hiv clinics have hiv patient representatives? As far as I know there are a few, to an extent some of these African Gay men that get diagnosed feel they cant face counselling, because they don’t all feel free.
We had fill in questionnaire at our clinic and given £10 each why is that? Is it for the record that yes we are African gay men living with hiv in London, we feel there is more that can be done about such situations that paying out £10, for instance having hiv patient representative to talk and comfort those newly diagnosed, its not just disclosing that’s the representatives must be hiv no, but when you talk to someone who is in a same situation its much comforting.
When Sam and I go to attend some meetings we never talk about our status because we feel it’s that way. There are a lot of African gay men living with hiv that find it hard to come out and speak out on hiv. We have now started planning to meet up with other African gay men living with hiv so as to encourage each other and share our experiences, we just hope some day there will be an organisation that will be run by African Gay men that will let others to feel free and join the organisation.