• May 26th, 2020

Would his HIV status get him fired?

Margarite Nathe and Valery Mwashekele

OMUTHIYA - Johnas Nestor knew he was HIV-positive. But he worried over what would happen if his boss found out—so he stopped taking his meds.

Before he started his new job as a domestic worker in a house near Omuthiya, Namibia, Nestor had taken his antiretroviral (ARV) medications regularly ever since he learned his status just under a year ago. But he didn’t know this new boss very well yet. How would he react if he found out his new staff member was HIV-positive? Would he tell him to leave?

Outside of work, Nestor watched as his friends took their own ARVs, and it made him anxious. He started having trouble sleeping.

“When am I going to get to take my meds again?” he thought.
Meanwhile, his friends were becoming more and more concerned for his welfare. They urged him to get back on his treatment regimen, but he wouldn’t budge for fear of losing his job. Finally, out of desperation, Nestor’s friends told his boss what was going on.

And it turned out that Nestor’s boss was upset—not because his staff member was living with HIV, but because Nestor was putting his own health in danger. So his boss offered to drive Johnas the 40 kilometers here, to the Omuthiya District Hospital’s HIV clinic.

Now Nestor is sitting with nurse Olivia Nandy, 68, who is one of 40 Namibian nurses who came out of retirement in 2016 to help fight the country’s HIV epidemic. Nandy asks him questions and speaks kindly to him. 

Physically, he’s feeling fine, Nestor says. But he’s been so afraid.
When he finishes talking with Nandy, Nestor visits the clinic’s pharmacy to pick up his ARVs. Before he turns to leave, he says to Nandy and the other health workers:
“You are very good people. I thought maybe you would shout at me because I wasn’t taking my medication. But you are good people.”

-Intrahealth Namibia
*IntraHealth is working with the government of Namibia to increase the number of health workers providing HIV services and provide the support and training they need to reach the country’s goal of an AIDS-free generation. IntraHealth’s  Usaid HIV Clinical Services Technical Assistance Project in Namibia is funded by the US Agency for International Development (Usaid) through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Response (PEPFAR).

Staff Reporter
2019-07-15 09:47:50 | 10 months ago

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