In an exclusive with The Nation, Asuquo stated it all began in 1999 when she was in secondary school facing disciplinary action at school. As the teacher’s punishment ensued, Asuquo’s collapse to the ground alluded to the need to be taken to a local general hospital and told by the doctor that she needed an immediate blood transfusion, the seriousness of the situation became increasingly obvious.…CONTINUE READING
The unavailability of both her parents during the emergency situation demanded the doctor to act swiftly and so, a blood was retrieved from the bank and transfused to Asuquo, little did she know this was the beginning of her unforeseen reality.
Following the whole exercise, recovery was not as smooth as anticipated. Weeks after leaving the hospital, Asuquo discovered a disconcerting reality: moments of temporary blindness upon rising from a seated position. The return to the hospital prompted a battery of tests leading to a diagnosis that shook the foundations of their world — she was HIV positive.
“To trace how I got the disease, the specialist hospital started testing my family members. But my father, my mother and my younger ones, every one of them was negative. In the process, they traced it to the hospital where I had undergone a blood transfusion.
“When the doctor who did it was asked why he gave me infected blood, he said I was in a critical condition when I was brought in and the only thing he could do was to save my life first with blood transfusion.
“He said since blood was available in the blood bank, he believed it had been screened and that was why he picked blood from there and did the transfusion. That was the explanation he gave. But I didn’t know what was going on then. All I knew was that they packed a lot of drugs for me to be taking regularly.”
The revelation remained concealed until one night when a father’s cryptic questions revealed the truth. The impact was seismic—HIV positive, unbeknownst to the one living with the condition. The weight of this realization triggered a torrent of emotions, questions, and a resolve to tell the world the story of government negligence.
“One night, my dad woke me up at night and asked me that if a friend of mine is HIV positive what would I do? I replied immediately, ‘Back to sender. That will never be my portion’.
“I never knew that the question was directed at me. All that flashed through my head at that moment were the gory pictures of the affected people in skeletons dying. So I rebuked it..
“That was when my mom began to wonder why my dad would wake me up at that period of the night, so she began to ask questions to find out what was going on.
“Two or three nights later, my dad woke me up again and asked me whether I remembered the question he asked me the last time, and I said yes. He then asked me the same question again.
“I told him I’d answered his question and that I didn’t understand why he was asking me the same question again. He then said you are the one: you are HIV positive.
“It was like my whole world crashed before my eyes, dawning on me that I was infected all these while and I never knew.
I was inconsolable, I was asking questions: where is the doctor that did this to me? Have they prosecuted him?
“I told my parents that they should take me to him and inject him with my blood as well. I was just asking a lot of questions but I was not getting the right answer.
“So at that point, I made up my mind to just go and die because the environment around me became choking.
“I became more frustrated when I learnt what transpired when my dad went to the church where we worshipped then. Being a senior elder of the church, he had to disclose my situation to the Reverend.
“I learnt that the Reverend told my dad that since he has five children, he should separate me from the rest of the family in order not to infect them.
“It was a trying period for my tender age then, and it got worse when I realised that my father had to spend and borrow a lot of money to get my medication.
In her remarks, she said, “God has a reason for my case. I’ve come to believe that, and that is why I resolved to speak for the voiceless PLWHA”
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