'My man doesn't believe I have HIV'
Twenty-two-year-old Star* is infected with HIV, but the 5ft 1 inch tall, young woman is having serious challenges convincing her child's father of her status.
"I am looking so good, so healthy, he just doesn't believe," said Star, who was raped by her stepfather when she was nine. Her abuse caused her to contract HIV months before she turned 10.
Today, the mother of a seven-year-old daughter, Star is excited that both her child and the man who fathered her are not carrying the virus. However, again and again, she is forced to prove that she is not lying about her positive status.
"When I started dating my daughter's father, I disclosed my status, but I was unable to convince him that I was telling the truth," she told The Gleaner.
Her child's father was so convinced, he refused to use a condom, "and I got pregnant," she said.
However, Star was forced to end the relationship one year after her daughter's birth because her partner wanted to have unprotected sex.
"This would have caused him to reinfect me and he would likely have contracted the virus," said Star, noting that she had to leave the community they lived in because he became a stalker, accusing her of having another relationship because she refused him sex without a condom.
As late as last month, Star stated that her daughter's father again accused her of not being ill, "because I didn't look any different than I did seven years ago", she stated.
According to her, the impression of a person stricken with the disease, being someone with rashes, who is emaciated, with a big head, is no longer the case, but that is what remains in the psyche of the Jamaican population, particularly, the men.
"With ARV (anti-retroviral) treatment, people are looking healthy, and as fluffy as Miss Kitty," she added.
She said the face of a person with HIV, for a man, is completely different.
"A girl with a big bumper, brown with pretty skin, clean skin, is good to go, yet she may be a full-blown AIDS patient."