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He gave me the virus, I revenged on womanisers, but that was then

Posted by Administrator on February 2, 2012

Photo/JARED NYATAYA/NATION When Evelyn Nyambura Simaloi was infected with HIV by her lover, the world around her collapsed, until she realised hope and audacity were part and parcel of the struggle against the virus.

Photo/JARED NYATAYA/NATION When Evelyn Nyambura Simaloi was infected with HIV by her lover, the world around her collapsed, until she realised hope and audacity were part and parcel of the struggle against the virus.

Because in our country, and on our continent, HIV has pervaded the most intimate moments in peoples’ relationships, it has burrowed itself deep into the very soul of our most unmentionable of taboos — sex.

It has held us hostage through our own silence and our burning shame. And most strangely, in a country and a continent divided by many things, it has united us, in the deaths of our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends.

Even our enemies. But amid the pain that HIV/Aids has caused, are threads of hope — that one day there will be a generation that doesn’t know how to describe HIV, because they don’t have to experience it.

This is a story of that hope and the audacity of those, infected and affected, who have remained unbowed by the enormity of the task of finding a cure for HIV/Aids.

In the middle of the ever growing grey rows of apartment blocks in Mwiki, east of the city centre of Nairobi, Evelyn Nyambura Simaloi, and her seven-year-old son Emmanuel are preparing to go on a journey, one that they hope will change both their lives.

Simaloi, especially, has hoped that this day will come for almost all of her adult life.

“It was about two years after I had finished high school; my step-mum had kicked me out for stealing a plate of chips.

“So I met a guy who became my boyfriend and took me in. One day, I was looking for a job and they required that I take a HIV test.

“Around the same time, my boyfriend fell very sick and was admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital Ward 7D. I’ll never forget that ward. Then he later told me that he knew he was HIV-positive. I was really shocked,” she recalls.

The news of her status was a blow she just wasn’t prepared to take. To this day, she still has a photo of the man who infected her with the virus.

At just 21 years of age, Simaloi felt the cruel irony of contracting a disease she thought would kill her just as she was about to begin life as an adult.

This, to her, was yet another dark twist in the tough life she had already endured. When Simaloi was an infant, her father, then, an airforce pilot, and her mother, separated.

Esther Wanjiku, Simaloi’s paternal auntie says: “Me and Simaloi had a special bond. I felt very sad, especially for her, although I didn’t fully understand why they were separating.”

Simaloi found herself in the homes of step-parents whom, she says, saw her as a burden — as a baggage from past relationships.

After they discovered her status, her family was the last place she was going to look for support. Desperate, bitter, and in denial, Simaloi told herself that she wouldn’t die alone.

“I used to have multiple sexual partners,” she told the radio station QFM. It became more than promiscuity for Simaloi.

She turned to commercial sex work to support herself, and try to soothe the bitterness that she felt for having contracted HIV.

For three years, Simaloi partied, drank, and had sex with many men. “I used to look for womanisers — men who like women. I was young and attractive.

“When men would see me on the dance floor, they would come running. I would always propose a condom, but some would refuse and I would say ‘fine, have it.’” But all that changed one night in 2002.

“I was coming from a chang’aa den at like 3 am. A man who had wanted me followed me, and raped me. I conceived,” she says.

Simaloi decided to turn her life around after discovering that her rape ordeal had left her pregnant. She became a Christian, stopped drinking, and reconnected with some members of her family.

Nine months later, Emmanuel was born; spinning her rape ordeal into what she says is the biggest blessing she has ever received.

But even Emmanuel, or Manu as she likes to call him, wouldn’t escape her past. “My son is a blessing. He has the virus, and that is one thing I regret. I gave him the disease through breast-feeding.

“He gets really sick two or three times a year and I panic, but whenever we celebrate his birthday, I thank God because I never thought we would go this far,” says Simaloi.

Manu had a positive impact on her as she eventually came to terms with her status. More than that, in her work as a freelance journalist and a peer educator, she found her purpose.

She would tell people that HIV is a virus like any other and encourage HIV-positive people to get on anti-retroviral treatment as soon as possible.

But in telling people this, Simaloi was secretly fighting her own battle with the disease — that of getting onto ARVS herself.

“For me personally, I don’t want to get onto ARVS. Yes they prolong life but I don’t want them,” she says. In truth, Simaloi didn’t know that HIV was eating away at her.

Says Dr Nicholas Muraguri of Nascop: “The period between the time one gets infected and the time the disease manifests itself can be between 8 and 15 to 20 years.

“There are three stages of HIV; in the first phase, after two months of infection you develop flu, or you have flu like symptoms.

“The next phase is asymptomatic HIV where you don’t have any symptoms. Then there is stage three where opportunistic diseases begin to develop and stage four when you develop full blown Aids.”

A month before we first met her, Simaloi was admitted in hospital for one month with a severe case of cryptococal meningitis.

Her son Emmanuel took pictures of her while she was ill. She was advised to start anti-retroviral treatment immediately, before she slipped into stage four of HIV — full blown Aids. But Simaloi resisted.

“I eat well, I’m OK even after getting ill,” she says. Simaloi admits that she didn’t want to get onto anti-retroviral treatment, because, apart from the side effects she had seen, it is a life-long treatment, and not an absolute guarantee of recovery from illness, especially for people like her who have already progressed into stage three of HIV.

ARVS are recommended once HIV-positive people’s CD4 count, that is, the number of white blood cells in the body, goes below 500.

When Simaloi was discharged from hospital after recovering from meningitis, her CD4 count was just 107.

Her attempts to boost the count with vitamin pills were working in fits and starts, but she nursed the hope of finding one set of medication that would leave her healthy for life, without committing to taking it every day.

Then one day, she heard about medication that promised that. And more. The medicine was made by a man in Molo, in the southern Rift Valley region of Kenya.

And it wasn’t just medication for HIV/Aids management, its maker said that it had the potential to cure her of HIV.

So on November 11, 2010, Simaloi, still weak and shaken from her last battle against HIV, set out with her son.

Ironically unshaken by the looming consequences of her decision — she walked with the support of a crutch, the lingering effect of the meningitis, which at times causes partial paralysis — but she was also leaning on her faith.

Faith in a man she had never met, medicine she knew little about, and faith in time, which she knew she may have little of.

For most of the drive to Molo, Simaloi sat in silence, reading a brochure that told her about the herbal medicine she was on her way to take.

It was a big decision; and having lived with HIV for 11 years, she knew that there were many herbalists who had claimed to have the answer to HIV — many of which she has tried before. This time around though, she was confident.

“I don’t know why, but this one is different,” she says. In pursuit of her story, we all arrive in Molo town, a small outpost of the large breadbasket that is the Rift Valley.

A beautiful landscape from which, like in many other places in Kenya, the cries of people who have lost loved ones to HIV, have echoed.

But there too have been whispers of a man trying to turn this tide of tears back. A son of the soil with a remedy that people say has worked wonders for the health of many who were staring death in the face.

Sixty-year-old-David Mwangi is that man. And as he comes out to meet Simaloi and Manu, he looks like a man who, if all the rumours about him were to go by, cloaked this mystique well under his unassuming appearance.

But once inside, his faith, and his convictions are very clear. After Simaloi tells David how she and Manu contracted HIV, David begins what he calls a counselling session, heavy laden with biblical references.

“I believe anybody has the capacity for everything. Nebuchadnezzar was used to destroy the Middle East. To believe you must cleanse yourself of all of these other beliefs,” he says.

“You have to believe that this works.” A lot of what David tells Simaloi on this day is about her own belief that his medicine can work.

Because he doesn’t profess to have any specialised knowledge as a doctor or as a traditional healer, we ask David on a different occasion how he came about this medicine.

The one area he says he does have experience in, belief, and faith, gives us the answer. “There is something inside called a guiding spirit,” he says.

David then goes on to explain to Simaloi what his medicine is. “What we are going to do is that we are going to kill the virus. One thing is that you will start to feel changes in 10 days.

“In 15 days’ time people will start to notice. My medicine will do its work. You will have to attend to other things like eating right.”

But having heard advise like this before, an attentive Simaloi has some questions. “Are you saying that this will kill the virus completely?” she asks whereupon David explains:

“When you see people who have lived for six years without using ARVS coming back to help, what do you say? We are coming from old wineskins to new wineskins.” He explains.

After what has been 30 minutes of a back and forth between David and Simaloi, he goes to get his medicine.

His medicine, which he calls poochmed, is extracted mostly from plants and natural products but he won’t tell us what it’s made of.

Simaloi though seems happy with the discussion. “I’m still very positive. Usually I walk into a place but today I have got no nagging feeling about this,” she says.

Minutes later, poochmed, David’s medicine is brought out. Simaloi and Manu have their first taste. David insists on their taking more water than usual to help the medicine in its effectiveness.

This first dose will last Simaloi and Manu two weeks, after which they will need to come back and get a second dose.

David also wants them to return so that he can monitor their progress, and chat with Simaloi, who he feels still has misgivings about the medicine; especially whether it will or won’t cure her of HIV.

A week later Simaloi and Manu are on their way to their regular clinic near their home and Simaloi says she’s feeling a big change in her since she began taking poochmed.

Manu, however, reacted to the medication badly and had diarhorrea for three days. “Now I have to take half dose”.

At the clinic, Simaloi decided to take a HIV test. Even though she knew her status, she thought it was a good opportunity to get the message out there that knowing your status is half the battle won.

She was also feeling very optimistic about poochmed. “I am positive, definitely positive,” she says.

In most hospitals that run HIV clinics, once a person tests positive for HIV, the next step is to get their CD4 count taken. Because she’s been feeling better, Simaloi decides to check her count.

“It’s not good,” she says. The doctors here shepherd her to the drugs counter to ensure that she takes her dose of ARVS.

But as we go back to her home, Simaloi begins to regain her confidence in poochmed. “I have seen drastic changes,” she says.

The effects of her bout of meningitis seem to have worn off, but this is where most doctors claim that herbal medicine can be at best confusing, and at worst, disastrous for someone’s health.

Prof Omu Anzala is the director of the Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative. He’s been at the forefront of the search for a Kenyan developed aids vaccine.

“With proper science we diagnose and give treatment for HIV as well as for opportunistic diseases. With herbs you don’t know what is being treated,” says the professor.

“I don’t think that there is any herbal concoction that has proved efficacious against the disease,” says Dr Muraguri.

Even David himself knows that his chances at being taken seriously as a researcher that may have stumbled onto what could be the biggest medical triumph of this generation are slim.

“The biggest drawback with Africans is that if something does not come from the West we consider it primitive, backward. It has to come from over there so we can take it,” he protests.

In our company, Simaloi and Manu are back in Molo to see David for their second dose of poochmed. Mother and son claim that their health has vastly improved.

The molluscum — the black pimples on her face, seem to have faded since the last time we saw her, and so outwardly at least, something seems to be happening.

But Simaloi still has questions about the efficacy of David’s drug. “I’ve always feared to ask this: Will I turn negative, what am I expecting?” she asks.

There seems to be confusion about whether David’s medicine cures or manages HIV, so I jump in to ask what exactly David believes the medicine does. He obliges.

“There has been no medicine that can isolate the virus within the CD4 and kill it,” he says. When we ask him if that is what the medicine does he replies in the affirmative.

“After the medicine does its work, you will test negative but if you go for another test you will test positive.

For instance there is a lawyer; a lady who says she tests negative but when she goes for, I don’t know what, virology, she tests positive,” says David.

David also claims to have given his medicine to nearly one hundred people like the lawyer he has just described. We ask to contact them, but he is hesitant.

He claims that none of his former patients ever wants to be associated with the disease — or with him after they’ve been healed.

It takes us months to convince him to let us interview one of his “patients”. On our third visit to Molo, he introduces us to a friend and a neighbour of his whom he says took poochmed. He is the 30-year-old John Hamisi Hanga.

John Hamisi looks frail, the effects of what he says was his brush with death, after contracting tuberculosis late in 2010.

Tuberculosis is one of the more common and deadly opportunistic diseases that affect HIV positive people who have progressed to stage three of the virus.

Hanga though, claims that he’s doing much better than he was in January 2011, when he was given anti-retrovirals after his diagnosis.

“The drugs reacted badly on me so I took them back to the doctor who said I had no alternative but to use them. But then I happened to meet this man David.”

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/DN2/-/957860/1318584/-/awrpek/-/index.html


12 Responses to “He gave me the virus, I revenged on womanisers, but that was then”

  1. leo said

    Gosh! whatta an Ordeal? all this misery because of a plate of chips? NO! can’t blame the chips. Well, it got to be her step-mom’s fault for over disciplining her. Not that either,it got to be her father for remarrying unforgiving woman. Apana! got to blame the guy who took her in after she got kicked out. Azi! still not because this guy probably was retaliating and making sure he also infect others just like they infected him. Actually no! what about blaming the whole world for not doing enough to find a cure? From spoochmed to ARV manufactures,why can’t we all work together to find a cure? For manu and many other innocet children, I see a better future ahead if we all work together toward finding a cure for this unforgiving deases. God bless.

    • Fuko said

      Well said. Leo, how comes you make the same analysis just like the so called mysterious ITHAVETHI. Hope they will one find a cure for this deadly disease that is believed to have been manufactured in a lab somewhere in Texas.

      • leo said

        Fuko,I dont know about the lab in TX however just like you ,I also very strongly believe that AIDS is a man made disease and after the population is under control the cure will be quickly put on the shelves.Back in early 90s, a basketball star well known as Majic johnson contracted AIDS and he had to resign from the NBA. Today, he is said to have no trace of this virus. This dude look healthy even nearly 20yrs later but well the dude got money.big money. He owns many quality restaurants and he is also the owner of LA fitness center .In my village back in Kenya, my neighbour is well known to have AIDS for ever but he can only infect others but he never die.He infects every woman he marries and they end up dying and so far 4 of them have died and just last year he married a 5th wife who I believe will eventually die of AIDS. Not far away from my village, another man is said to be a carrier of this AIDS virus and the story is the same as my neighbour, all he does is infect others while he leave them to die himself appear to be very heathy. He Almost got my niece but my family raised hell and he stepped back. Knowing what I know, without doubt I can almost guarantee that this desease can not only be managed but also cured. There must be a cure. If a snake venom can be a cure for snake bite,I dont know why scientist are not interested on studying the carriers who infects others but themselves seem to be well.

  2. peris said

    This article sucks.some confessions are not worth.you infected men who later infected their innocent wives.May be some gave birth to children who are infected and yet you are talking about it as if you are talking about an oscar award you have just won.

    • moraa said

      you don’t understand. this was then when people used to stigmatize so much. many people didn’t have knowledge on what to do. with frustration you can do anything. just forgive her and let it not pain you much. right now i am sure she cant do that. God bless

    • JUMA said

      There you go… She intentionally and willingly executed these men by using her body as a deadly weapon. This is murder and its punishable in most countries.

  3. Ruth Kangai said

    If there were no womeners then Nyambura would not have the thought of spreading the virus. We all need to change our ways to ensure the virus is not spreading at an alarm rate as it is today. Ruth

  4. leslie smith said

    Humble ourselves and trun away from our wicked ways then God will heal all of us

  5. pastor said

    Fundisha hao adabu ya kuhanya hanya ovyo ovyo that’s wat u get cheating on ur wives!

    • leo said

      Pastor! either you missed the whole story or you need to call Jesus right away. 911 ya binguni.

    • ITHAVETHI said

      Sikutarajia mchungaji wa hekima kama wewe ungefoka matamshi ya utatanishi na yenye kupuuza hali ilvyo kwa wenzetu walioambukizwa ugonjwa hatari kama huu. Ingawa najua ni jina tu uliolitumia katika mjadala huu, ni muhimu kuwa mwenye busara hasa unapogunaguna na kunong’ona kama yule ambaye katu hana hurumu ila faraja kwa wagonjwa hawa. Ikiwezekana hapo baadaye, libadilishe jina lako liwe canon, evangelist, apostle, disciple, au tuseme askofu. Kwani yote utakayoyasema yatanukia ukwelli

      • wangari said

        you write good kiswahili. wow….pongezi. as for the article i didn’t get whether the herbal medicine is working or not. if so, this could help many more people suffering.

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