What you need to know:
- Unlike other victims who learn of their status from authorised medics, Hellen Masha* got hers from her house help.
- She was married to a bishop of a renowned denomination.
- Rumours about the bishop's affair with their house girl abound.
- Ms Masha says she was in a daze when she discovered she is HIV positive.
Hellen Masha, (not her real name) has been HIV positive for 11 years now. She endured the toughest moments of life before she could accept her status.
Unlike other victims who learn of their status from authorised medics, she got hers from her house help.
"She sent me a text message asking if we could meet, just a week after I had dismissed her. I, however, refused since the dismissal was my husband's directive after we learnt she was expectant, and I did not want to disobey my husband," she narrates.
Married to a bishop of a renowned denomination, Ms Masha, a mother of four, did not imagine a time would come when she would narrate such a story from a victim's point of view.
In her 14 years in marriage, she always pitied HIV positive persons and had seen relatives succumb to the virus, while others survived.
"My life was church packed; I was always on church missions either with my husband, or representing him when need be – the more reason we hired a house help," she narrates.
Two of their children were in primary school while the rest were boarding in high school and college, respectively.
As a couple, they were very close, always engaging in most things together, and consulting before making decisions.
Unknown to her, a dark cloud hovered over her house while she was engaged in the church missions and meetings across the region.
"My husband was this person who would visit a doctor immediately he sensed a slight issue threatening his health; he was also keen on the health of our family," she says.
With time, her husband’s external trips declined, while he assigned her more duties. He handled other duties from within the town.
The more she stayed away, the thicker the dark cloud covered her home. Rumours about the bishop's affair with the house girl abound.
"One night, I came back from a church mission and a friend told me my husband was having an affair with my house help and that they had been seen in some secret joints. I dismissed the rumours and refused to listen to more," she says.
She, however, asked her husband about it when she got home and it ended in a fight.
That was the genesis of domestic violence in a peaceful family, hence, a discord that would lead to the crumble of an altar.
Six months later, the husband asked her to send away the house help after it emerged that she was expectant. The bishop said God had revealed that the house help was an evil planted to destroy his family hence had to leave.
"I didn't want her to leave because she was expectant, I was eager to help but the bishop would not let that happen, so I sent her packing," she recounts.
Frequent efforts by the house help to meet her did not yield fruit. The house help sent her a text message, a long narrative of her secret affair with the bishop.
She confirmed the rumours that had been peddled in town, the joints where they would sneak with the bishop for their secret ordeals. The message ended with the alert that would shake her wits.
"She asked me to take a HIV test and start medication in case it turned out positive as my husband was aware of his status; and also that the pregnancy was my husband's," she says.
Ms Masha narrates that she was in a daze for a while. She spoke to God and asked Him to make the announcement a dream.
That evening, she bought test kits and asked the bishop to partake in the test, he refused and upon her persistence, it turned out ugly and he beat her up.
"I remember I woke up in hospital. My parents and my eldest son by my side, they were all quiet and looking at me in pity," she recounts.
She narrated her experience with them, and they compelled the bishop to come to the hospital for a test, which he refused.
When they threatened the bishop that they would expose him to the council of bishops, he fled from the town but did not make it as he was involved in a fatal road accident in Voi.
"I confirmed my fears eventually even at his death, he just did not have a chance to apologise, and it took long for me to forgive him even in death," she says.
Ms Masha is now a champion in church, advocating for frequent HIV testing for couples.
"Nobody is too innocent to infect or to be infected, we are all vulnerable," she says.
A report by the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey says of the 83.6 per cent of HIV-infected Kenyans living in married or cohabiting couples, neither partner know their HIV status.