Namutebi has overcome rejection to become an advocate for people living with HIV /AIDS

Ruth Elizabeth Namutebi was born with HIV/AIDS but had never realized it until she came of age.

This is when rejection and despair set in.

Born into a nuclear family 29 years ago in Makindye, one of the Kampala suburbs, all was fine for Namutebi until her mother passed on from an illness she later got to know was HIV/AIDS.

Taken on by her aunt, she started falling sick and never got out of hospital where Septrin, a pill prescribed for those living with HIV/AIDS was her daily meal until the body overgrew it.

She was made to start taking antiretroviral drugs.

“It was then that I was told by my aunt that I had HIV/AIDS but even then, I didn’t know what it meant to have Aids,” Namutebi says.

According to Namutebi, while in her Form 1, she used to fall sick almost weekly which led to the school dictating that she stays at the dispensary.

“This made me uncomfortable,” she states.

The 29 -year -old says that in her Senior Two, she started realizing what it meant being HIV positive.

“It hit me hard knowing that I had HIV/ AIDS and I was depressed. I felt lonely but I kept this secret to myself,” she says.

“Things however turned worse when I decided to confide into a friend whom I thought would help comfort me. She informed the class and what had been a secret for the two of us became known by everyone in class and I became rejected.”

Namutebi narrates that for a period of three years, everyone at her school knew of her HIV status and she devised means of dodging school for fear of embarrassment.

Even the few days she attended class; things turned out bad for Namutebi.

“Each time the teacher discussed about diseases, such as HIV, it made me feel terrible because everyone would turn and look at me. My fellow students always thought I had contracted HIV through sleeping around with men. I would cry to sleep every night,” she said.

To the little girl who was going through rejection, the parents never knew her despair since she hid it from them.

Turning point

In her Senior Four, Namutebi realized she had to do something to change the situation or else she would fail her final exams. She put her foot down, vowing to change the situation.

“I realized the people pointing fingers at me were just naysayers that I had to avoid. I told myself, I had to fight for my life and my future,” she said.

She started reading books and in the final exams, she passed highly.

Namutebi joined a new school for her Senior Five, but rejection still followed her and this until her final A-Level exams.

She didn’t perform well.

Despite not performing well, she was determined to join university to pursue her dream course of architecture.

The 29 -year -old says that she applied at two public universities but none of them admitted her.

She was later admitted to for a diploma in Architecture at the Uganda Technical College in Masindi but while there an incident happened that she almost took her life.

“Some students asked my friends to stay away from me because I was HIV positive. I felt rejected by everyone, I took 90 pills so that I could die and the suffering stops but I didn’t die,” she narrates.


Namutebi says that she always played it safe and for fear of being rejected, she didn’t want to fall in love with anyone.

However, during school, one of the schoolmates fell in love with her and their love blossomed until it all crumbled like a cake.

“I didn’t disclose my status to him but when he got to know of it, he said he was okay with it. However, our relationship was brought to an end when her mother got to know of my status and asked him to chuck me,” she says.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Namutebi however says that she has risen from the ruins of rejection to start speaking about HIV AIDS and advocating for love for people with the virus.

“People with HIV AIDS are normal just like the other people and should be treated the same way. They should not be discriminated,” she argues.

She was recently elated when she was chosen as one of the 100 youth representatives who participated in the fourth national youth parliament debate.

She moved a motion on the floor of parliament.

“This was not only an honour and dream come true but also an insight of what I have to offer this nation in the years to come. I have been rejected many times, but I have never given up. I will also continue to break the barrier of fear among HIV/ AIDS patients “she concludes.

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