As a person living with HIV, I am treated worse than a criminal” – TV presenter, producer, and Activist, Mary Ero
Mary Ero, opens up about the unfair treatment she gets from health care providers on account of her HIV status, and her hope despite her despair.
Speaking on her experience with stigmatization emanating from her HIV status, Mary Ero shared how emotionally toxic the relationship between people living with HIV and public health care providers remains in Nigeria.
“All my experiences in public hospitals have been nothing but emotionally draining. These people (doctors and nurses) treat people living with HIV as if they are criminals. In fact, I will not say they treat us like criminals because criminals would be treated better. We are treated like the vile of the earth,” she explained.
“We come into the hospital at 5:30AM, so imagine what time we leave our houses, depending on where we are coming from. We are made to wait for 4 hours to see a doctor who will not even look at us, but will rather bury his or her face in a file.
Questions that are meant to be asked to your face and with empathy would be directed to a file card. Therefore, we wait 4 hours for a cold conversation with the doctor. They don’t give you drugs until you are absolutely dying, because the drugs have to be rationed in fairness to them and only the sickly get it first.”
“The story is unending for people living with HIV. From rude nurses to giving out bribes to be treated like a human being, to the lack of capacity for a country like Nigeria to properly take care of us. I am not only dealing with this illness, but I am also dealing with the lack of empathy from the ones that are supposed to be providing me with all the health care I need,” she said.
Her despair as a person living with HIV has not left her without hope as she had decided to find joy and purpose in the most important person in her life – her daughter.
“I think in all my despair, deep down, I want to live. I really want to live. I will attribute that to my daughter. Having a child is a responsibility and a good and happy one at that. You want to give that child everything, and that includes your life,” she concluded.
With determination and courage to speak up about a topic that has been considered a taboo, Mary Ero continues to educate millions of Nigerians through her life on what it means to be a person living with HIV and how everyday life can be navigated regardless.