First Kenya Man to publicly announce his HIV status dies of Cancer

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Joe Muriuki who had lived with HIV for over 30 years after he was told by his doctors in 1987 that he had only three months to live has been declared dead.

Muriuki, who is the first Kenya man to publicly announce his Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) status, died of cancer.

The National Empowerment Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK) in a statement on its Twitter disclosed the news of his death.

NEPHAK announced that Joe, who had been receiving treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital for two years died of cancer

On September 20, 1987, Joe Muriuki publicly announced he had tested positive for HIV and that made him the first man in Kenya to disclose his HIV status.

When he was HIV positive, his wife was three weeks’ pregnant with their third child, which some doctors advised her to abort owing to the fear of the foetus being infected with HIV.

Close to 27 years, Joe Muriuki avoided the Antiretrovirals (ARVs), augmenting that he retained a stable CD4 count of over 400 through a healthful diet, maintaining active and a positive behavior.

In an interview before his death, Joe Muriuki indicated that the humiliation he was encountering led to his movement from Nairobi to his home town in Nyeri.

He said, “Everybody was looking at me like an alien when they learnt of my status and even at work, my chair had to be thrown away. I, therefore, decided to travel home to Nyeri to go and die there.”

Joe Muriuki was one of the team members that came together to start NEPHAK and served at the HIV tribunal as a representative of people living with HIV.

It was reported that he was also a member of the regional task force that worked on the formulation of the East African HIV/AIDS management Act.

 

By Damilola Olufemi