Riana Joubert
2 minute read
17 Jul 2015
1:07 pm

I was given a death sentence: HIV+ elderly rape victim

Riana Joubert

"I have been given a death sentence for being too old to protect myself," said a 67-year-old woman from Disteneng in Polokwane, who tested positive for HIV after she was raped by young men in the area.

Picture: Capricorn Review

Following the rape, the woman said older women lay in bed at night expecting to be raped, Capricorn Review reported.

“I have no idea what I am going to do now. I have lived right, but now have to deal with the reality that I have an illness that has no cure. I cannot fight it like cancer and I can only try to stay healthy. But how do I stay healthy when I live in an area without proper sanitation?” she asked.

She said the young men who made a habit of raping the older women also slept with some of the younger girls, which spread the virus.

“I do not know how I will deal with my illness, but at least I know my status. Most people in the area never really go to hospitals and clinics where they can get tested and this means that more and more people will be infected and there is nothing I can do about it,” she said.

“The younger men just come into your house and tell you that it is time to have sex. You do not have a choice, what they want they will get, because there is no one to protect you,” she said.

The woman said she had been a victim of rape numerous times and had no way to hide the shame she went through, being the victim of someone who could be her own grandson.

She said living in an informal settlement or rural area meant there were no locked doors to hide behind and no police station close by.

“The nearest police station is almost 10km away. I do not have money to go there and walking at my age is not an option,” she said.

Jacky Selepe, a nurse at the Pietersburg Provincial Hospital, said HIV was manageable and could be treated with medication, which did not cure the patients, but helped them live longer and healthier.

She said the first step after testing HIV positive was to see a healthcare provider, even if you don’t feel sick.

“Prompt medical care is the best way to stay healthy. People with HIV work closely with their healthcare providers to decide when to start treatment and what HIV medication to take. Making these decisions begins with an HIV baseline evaluation that includes a review of the person’s health and medical history, a physical exam and lab tests.” said Selepe.

She added the results from an HIV baseline evaluation were used to decide whether a person was ready to start lifelong treatment with HIV medication, and if so, what HIV medication to use.

Selepe said it was important for the woman to visit the clinic regularly to ensure she was monitored and looked after. She said there were mobile clinics that made regular visits to rural areas and added that people should make use of these clinics to report their statuses to the nurses on duty.

Caxton News Service