NO SHAME IN BEING HIV POSITIVE Didacus Pius Odhiambo aka Man Poa Dida is a 48 year old father of four and husband of two who hails from Bumala Location, Busia County. He is a Drug and Substances’ Abuse Counselor at the Impact Research and Development Organization (IRDO) Drop in Center in Kisii.

It is a Center that is funded by Global Fund HIV through, the Kenya Red Cross Society to cater to the Key Population. The goal of the project (Global Fund HIV) is to contribute to the reduction of new HIV infections and AIDS related morbidity and mortality for a HIV free society in Kenya.

Apart from being a service provider, Didacus also has a story to tell and a life experience to share. In 2003 while doing odd jobs his sickly, eight year old daughter Gloria Melody Nafula died of what was suspected to be from HIV related complication. “After the death of my daughter, the doctor asked me to go for a HIV test. I tested positive to the virus and felt like my world had come to an end. For hours, I was numb to a point of entering a vehicle in Busia, paying fare and then drifting to the unknown leading to forgetting to alight at my home stage at Bumala. I got surprised to discover this only when the conductor of the vehicle I was travelling in touched me to ask me where I was supposed to a light from. I was already at Sega almost ten kilometers away from Bumala. He was a very kind and understanding young man. He helped me out of the vehicle and even gave me some money to help me go back to Bumala. When I finally got home, I went straight to bed and drifted into very deep sleep. I slept for more than four hours or so. Later, I woke up, gathered strength and walked to the home of a mama I knew to be helping people living with the condition I had been diagnosed with. Her name was Mama Jane Okana. She is a volunteer Home Based Care Provider in Bumala location. Jane, a naturally gifted counselor helped me come to terms with the condition and also introduced me to a Support Group of people living positively,” narrates Didacus.

It is from here that he broke the news to one of his family members; his daughter Nimrodah Mercy who was very understanding, encouraging and supporting. His experience however and his decision to go public led to misunderstandings and separation with his wife.He later on married a second wife Anyango Odhiambo. Time heals wounds. He is reconciled with his first wife. “Being in the group encouraged me not to give up in life. I decided to go to college where I did a Diploma course in Counseling Psychology and later a Higher Diploma in the same. In August 2013 I secured a job with IRDO and am happy with the opportunity it has given me to interact with Key Population in a bid to fight HIV. The chance to touch the lives of others keeps me going,” adds Didacus.

As the world converges in Durban for the 2016 AIDS conference, one of its objective is to reminds us that all our gains will be lost if we do not continue to push forward and build a strong global movement to change the course of the epidemic. “For us to meet this objective, I believe, the people who are already HIV positive should understand, there is NO shame about being HIV positive,” concludes Didacus