You have to be authentic

Kente Ayo came from Kenya to Holland. He feels good, but he is concerned about the people in his homeland, and he criticizes the European way of portraying them.

“When I arrived in Holland I was aware of my HIV. I feel balanced and healthy. I take medication; sometimes it feels like I'm constantly going to the hospital, but regular checkups are important. Many people think that attending doctors and going to health centres is difficult. But for me it is not; the only difference is the theme: HIV.”

“For a good relationship with your doctors you have to win their confidence. The Dutch treat people with HIV from a European perspective. For me it meant that I had to learn to understand this culture. But I brought my background with me. The doctor has to understand my background too for an effective treatment. So I asked myself: What can I bring the doctors and nurses to create co-operation? What is my present situation, where am I going to, where do I come from. If they understand this, they can connect with me.”

Short-term or long-term
“Some cultures are short-term oriented and others are long-term oriented. When I first came to the Hiv Vereniging I received a booklet that is based on a long-term orientation. At that time, that was not my orientation: I needed a short-term perspective and support. Off course, now my way of life is both long-term and short-term oriented, with the cultural influences that come from the West.”

“I go to regular meetings of HIV positive migrants. The atmosphere there is good, I feel comfortable. But I have questions about the role of the HIV Association. Is what they do for migrants effective, or is it just window-dressing? There are a lot of written words on paper, but all those plans and numbers should be implemented. We live with HIV in this country, and our experiences have to be turned into actions. We, migrants, are very conscious about our situation. As HIV positive people we need support from the society. There are things that can benefit the host country as well as the guest. We can bring towards each other enlightenment, and bring the best of all worlds together.”

False and romantic
“We all know those images of people with HIV: nasty pictures on television, hopeless individuals asking for help. Most of the time scared black people with low self-esteem.
Why do they make all these TV-programs? We have to realise what these programs do to the world. They are false and romantic, they give the wrong impression. This interview also could give a false and romantic impression.”
“I was scared as well, when I found out that I was HIV positive. But to take the fear away, we need better policies. Policies against discrimination, based on the experiences of several subgroups. This does not mean that you have to walk away from the mainstream society, but you have to be authentic. We have to look at the issue from different angles.”

“My life here has positive and negative sides. Positive is the treatment, the medical attention I get here, the experience of the medical specialists. Negative are the cuts, the wounds that are implemented, because I cannot return to where I came from. As many other migrants, I would like to return to my country. If HIV positive people are healthy and do not have to worry about their treatment, they can be very important to their own country and economy. But in Kenya, there is no medication and if it would be there, I would have to spend all my time and money for receiving good treatment. I don't trust the people there who can deliver medication.
In my country about 50.000 people are HIV positive. The poverty we have through HIV will affect the next generation. And who advocates for people in Africa?”


Hiv Vereniging Nederland

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For questions about living with HIV. Available monday, tuesday and thursday from 2 PM till 10 PM

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