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Interview 42

Age at interview: 51
Age at diagnosis: 47
Brief Outline: She became sick in the UK while visiting some of her children who live here, and she feels she is now 'stuck here.' The uncertainty over her immigration status is very stressful and does get her down. (Video and audio clips read by an actor.)
Background: A 51 year old woman who came to the UK from Africa over 5 years ago. She did not know what was wrong with her husband who became sick and died back home.

More about me...

Age at interview' 51

Age at diagnosis' 47

Sex' Female

Background' A 51 year old black woman who came to the UK from Africa over 5 years ago. She has 5 children, and she did not get diagnosed until after her husband died.

Outline' A 51 year old black woman who came to the UK from Africa over 5 years ago. She has 5 children, and she did not know what was wrong with her husband who became sick and died back home. The death certificate said 'gastroenteritis.' She became sick in the UK while visiting some of her children who live here, and she feels she is now 'stuck here.' Support groups have been very important to her well being, although the uncertainty over her immigration status is very stressful and does get her down. The financial hardship involved in not being able to work due to immigration matters is also extremely difficult for her to deal with. She eventually forgave her husband for infecting her. Her Christianity and prayers were important in her finding forgiveness for him.

(Video and audio clips read by an actor.)

 

Lack of money can contribute to desperate situations.

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Lack of money can contribute to desperate situations.

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People get desperate situations where you think… You want undergarments right. You know these tablets we are taking; they make you develop in different places where you normally don't develop, you put on weight. I wasn't this fat, but because of the tablets I am taking the fat has been redistributed to certain areas. Therefore I need a change of clothes and everything, which I can't afford, I can't buy anything. It is all from 10 years ago. And I know I need to buy something that looks smart, because if you are ill, it doesn't mean you have to be dirty or you know…whatever. You have to be smart, you have to make an effort. But how do you make the effort? You can't go to the hairdressers, you can't go except those who can do their own hair. I can do my own hair now, but in the first year, I could not do that, I had to do my own hair. Now I can. So it's another stumbling block among a lot of stumbling blocks.

 

Prayer and support groups helped her to move on from her sense of betrayal and anger that her...

Prayer and support groups helped her to move on from her sense of betrayal and anger that her...

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With me my husband, we had five children together, he was ill… he didn't tell… and I didn't know what was wrong with him until he died back home. I didn't know… but when I came here, I just came here for a visit, to see my children who were here. Then as I was about to go back home. According to…when he died, even the death certificate it was gastroenteritis. But the way he looked, he lost weight! 

I kept asking him, 'Is there anything you haven't told me?' And he said, 'No.' But when he was on his death bed, he said to me, 'I am sorry, I am sorry. I am leaving you with children, please look after our children, I am sorry for what I did to you.' I don't know what he meant. 

When I was diagnosed… because I knew no men besides him, that is when I realised. 

When I was diagnosed I was bitter. I cried, I was angry, I said, 'What did you do to me? You knew, why didn't you tell me?' So to me he had killed me, even my children, when I told them about my diagnosis, each one of them said, each one of them said, 'That is dad, what did he do to you? Now you are going to die.' I had to tell the children, 'No it's OK,' he has gone. 

I had to learn to forgive him. I went to churches, because I was angry. Yeah I learnt to forgive him…

Because I was really bitter. Because I was crying, support groups too. It helped me to forgive him and just move on yeah… Yeah it was a struggle, every time I think of it, even at home, trying to pray and it would just come into my mind and then I would start crying, cussing and calling him names. Yeah. What am I to do, he is gone? I said I have to forgive him and go on, and leave the past, and look after my children. That is how I got over it.

 

After an advocate visited her in hospital and helped her join a support group, she was motivated...

After an advocate visited her in hospital and helped her join a support group, she was motivated...

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Especially myself, I remember, I stayed for 5 months in hospital. The last hospital where I went, there was this lady who came to visit me, she was coming from a support group. She talked to me about this support group and things like that, but I didn't understand what she was talking about. 

So the next day she told the nurses to invite me for the next support group. So the hospital hired a taxi for me to go to the support group. I went there and saw very fit people. And I thought, how could they take me to such a place? Are all these people… are they HIV positive? And I couldn't believe it myself. 

I went back to the hospital and I said, 'I think you sent me to the wrong place'. They said 'no, no, no it was the right place'. 

So on my discharge from hospital, this lady from that support group came to visit me and she always used to send me a taxi. And that is when I started to see… talking to those fit people, speak to people, how they are managing. 

And all of a sudden people were shocked about my recovery. In my life. All of a sudden I started to improve. Because I was looking at the fit people and saying I want to be like her. How come she is so fit and I am still thin? What is happening to me? Even asking some of the people what type of food are you eating which is making you healthy?

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