The National, Thursday 01st December 2011
By GABRIEL LAHOC
IT took Mary (not her real name) from Morobe two years to come out publicly and say she has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
And that is the one of the positive stories in the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS.
Mary, a 20-year-old from Finschhafen who left the Dregerhaffen Technical School in 2008,
was diagnosed with the virus a year later.
She was being referred from the Brown health centre in the district and consequently put on antiretroviral treatment.
Her courage against all odds to come out quickly proof that individuals and groups working on the ground have been doing a good job.
Mary has spoken out during awareness campaigns in and outside the city.
She met reporters for the first time for an interview and was proud to say she is a trained counsellor to other HIV patients and had counselled 10 individuals already.
She is a member of the Morobe Network of Positive Living, a provincial group made up of people living with HIV. She has engagements with Tingim Laip, another non-governmental organisation involved in the fight against the disease.
Encouraged by MNPL chairman Anton Tom, Mary, whose family apart from her mum and dad are yet to know of her status, is doing awareness in public but in locations outside of Lae and her home district.
“I gained confidence after talking to mum and dad, but it is our secret at the moment,” the naturally-beautiful Finschhafen lass said.
In her advocacy work, she testifies and challenges people especially young men and women not to hide the disease .
“There are many young people I know who have the virus but are yet to come out
“Some are in the working class,” she said.
Today she will be making her first public appearance at the Bulolo district as part of MNPL’s programme on World AIDS Day.