I'm HIV Positive And That's Not My Secret, I've Got Better Secrets To Hide

Urmimala Das Urmimala Das in Your Story on 26 January, 2017

“HIV is not my secret; I've got better secrets to hide,” Sharifah Nalugo, born HIV Positive, Ugandan Miss Young Positive, said with confidence.

I met her through on a social media platform. Knowing her has been an amazing experience in my life. Today, she is an inspiration for me as she is to thousands and thousands people all over the world. Her life story can motivate anyone to overcome his/her pain and obstacles in life. In one word, she is a ‘Blessing’ to this world.

Sharifah was born in the year 1995 at Mengo Hospital in Kampala of Uganda. She was only one year old when her father died of AIDS. Till then, she and her mother, both were healthy. Soon, their time arrived. They started to fall sick.

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Initially, her mom decided to go for the HIV test for herself; that resulted positive. But she didn’t start to take the treatment and medicine because she wanted to live in denial. She thought hoping that it’s not true was a better idea. But when Sharifah started to face major health issues at the age of 6, she was also made to take an HIV test that also came positive.

As a result, both of them started taking treatment and medicines. It was then that their own people started to behave in an inhumane way with them. In a situation when they needed their support the most, their own family members decided to abandon them.

Sharifah’s mother's father threw them out of his house where they were living after her father’s death.

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Here, I must mention one thing. Though her grandfather’s act was inhumane, Sharifah didn’t want to blame him. She says, “It was not his fault. It happened due to lack of his knowledge regarding HIV positive people. He didn’t get proper information about this disease. They were afraid of the disease. Hence, they started get afraid of us.”

Her thoughts reminded me of the great saying by Anne Frank – "In spite of everything people are really good at heart." I found the same courageous girl in Sharifah. A wonderful heart, full of positive thoughts, for the world and mankind.

It will be a great mistake if I don’t let you know about Sharifah’s mother (Ms. Nkalubo Mwagib). Her mother’s role is very strong in her life. There's a reason why Sharifah is such an optimistic. She always sees her mother as a strong woman. After getting out from her grandfather’s house, they took shelter in the house of Sharifah’s mother's step mom. That woman loved them and welcomed them in her with open arms. While staying there, Sharifah’s mom always made sure that Sharifah was not stressed. Every evening, her mom sang a song for her; the song was in her mother tongue ‘Lugand’.

That song meant — how she didn’t want her daughter to suffer. It was an expression of her love for Sharifah and it displayed the strength of that woman who tried to do everything for her daughter even in the most painful situation.

“If you are HIV-positive, you just have to accept yourself for who you are,” she says.
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When she was in school, initially she didn’t reveal the fact that she was HIV-positive to her friends. But slowly she opened up. There were hundreds of questions coming her way from her friends. She could answer those questions because she had already fed herself the information that she needed about HIV-positive people. So her friends accepted her for who she was and it helped her to accept herself.

After self-acceptance, her life took a wonderful turn. Today we know her as an artist/activist; she teaches the young generation about HIV prevention and helps them cope with the stigma that comes with being HIV-positive. She campaigns for the right of people with HIV. In 2014, her work as a role model was recognized by the Uganda Network of Young People living with HIV, which crowned her the winner of its annual beauty pageant.

“This is who I am, I’m not afraid of people knowing who I am,” she says. 
Author's Note:

I salute this wonderful girl for her courage, social activities, positive attitude, and wish her much more success in the future.

Editor's Note:

Being an HIV positive does not make you an untouchable. Share this story to educate people because it's NEEDED.