Real or Perceived Health Care Discrimination

Today I cried.

I am 28 weeks pregnant and still having a hard time coping with the situation, I did not want to become pregnant; NOT for this man and especially not the way in which it happened. It took me 28 weeks to admit that I am pregnant and 28 weeks to go for my first antenatal visit.

The nurse assessing was a very candid inquisitive woman. She celebrates her birthday a day after mine and with us sharing the Capricorn sign I thought we were getting along quite fine. After scanning through my document to fill out the information in my antenatal book, I suddenly realized that I was going to be the highest point of her day. She asked, how long I have been aware of my HIV status, I responded, since the same day you see it as been recorded in my docket. Continuing she asked, the child you had last year is this pregnancy for the same man? Becoming irritated I asked, you heard your partner having bastard babies? She ‘urged’ me to not be rude then bluntly asked “why is it that you are going around having sex and getting all these children with different men and what about those in between that you have slept with, do they know your status? You need prayer, let me sing and pray for you.” Before I could stop myself tears were rolling down my cheeks, my throat became hoarse and I was trembling I distinctively heard myself say “what the f**k? How dare you?!” She offered me paper towel but I shunned her. I somehow managed to pull myself together and asked her if she doesn’t believe that I deserve the happiness of being romantically involved with someone, placing her right hand on her right cheek, she asked “how do I respond to that?” I told her to do so honestly. She said I deserve the happiness of not being able to have any more children because of my positive HIV status.

Broken and ashamed, regardless of knowing the facts,  I retorted probably if you people were doing your damn jobs instead of being investigators many of ‘us’ wouldn’t be in this position! After realizing my anger and frustration she begged me to not report her as she did not mean to offend me, she was merely asking these questions because she knows of cases where individuals intentionally seek to infect others. She wrote her number in my book and said I can call and speak with her if I ever felt like talking. I smiled and she asked are we friends, I just kept smiling.

After I left the assessment room I went down the hall and retrieved the information for reporting misconduct within the health care facility. I went home and cried some more. Here I am struggling to accept an unwanted pregnancy, forcing myself to deal with this compromising situation and this ignorant foolish woman has the nerve to be saying B.S. not even caring how I feel. I was not going to allow her to make me feel powerless. I wrote a wordy, emotional mail but stopped before I sent it off. I asked myself, am I being vengeful or am I helping another woman? I still have not sent that email as yet, I still have not answered me.

So here I am, what to do? Is this what stigma and discrimination in the health care setting really feels like? This is what others have and will face? Did I hear her right? Did HIV cause my brain to distort the message? Did I truly interpret her differently than she meant me to? Am I now one of the many who have faced treatment related discrimination?


One thought on “Real or Perceived Health Care Discrimination

  1. Sharon Cooper

    After all this time I took the time to read this post. IF one is NOT sensitized about the issues that affects PLHIV they will never understand.


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