Former AIDS Ambassador, Dzidzor Yawavi Mensah, has revealed she publicly denied her HIV positive status because her children were being ridiculed in school.
In an open letter to President John Mahama, the controversial former AIDS ambassador explains, “Love for my children and fear for the future concerning HIV related stigma compelled me to publicly deny my HIV status putting the entire world in the state of shock.”
She also wants compensation for her five years service to the AIDS Commission before her contract was terminated.
According to Dzidzor Mensah, her contract with the AIDS Commission was terminated by the Commissions Director, Angela El Adas, because she was suspected of using her HIV positive status to promote her personal interests.
“A journalist called Rebecca Awuah at GBC interviewed me on GTV and in the process showed a gospel music I recorded when I was barely 17 years. Due to that, Angela said i was using the HIV campaign to promote my music.
“I was unable to attend a particular program because my mother in law wasn’t available to help me with my new baby.
“I heard some staff of AIDS commission say I belonged to an opposition party which I think may also be another factor for my termination,” she explained in the open letter released Sunday.
“The termination letter affected me both physically and psychologically for years and I struggled many times with sleepless nights even as at now. But since my termination wasn’t made public, schools and churches continued to engage my services,” she said.
The former AIDS Ambassador shocked the country in 2014 when she declared she was not HIV positive.
She said then: ”I am not HIV positive, but I did confess that I was for the sake of those who are really HIV positive”.
In Sunday’s letter, Dzidzor Mensah also apologized to Ghanaians and institutions who had invited her to share her story.
Read her letter below.
My heartbroken apology letter to President Mahama and Ghanaians for public denial of my HIV positive status
My heart broken and apology letter to President John Mahama, to all schools and churches, to all institutions and the media in Ghana and abroad who have hosted me to educate them with my HIV story I lied about my HIV status to protect my children. I test positive to HIV in the year 2007.
Love for my children and fear for the future concerning HIV related stigma compelled me to publicly deny my HIV status putting the entire world in the state of shock.
I entered into an agreement with the Ghana AIDS Commission five years ago to disclose my HIV status publicly giving a human face to HIV.
With my past experience of stigma and rejection from house to house, abuse and discrimination, I requested for shelter protection from the AIDS commission which was agreed. The campaign finally kicked off with my images on billboards and my videos being aired across the nation.
I have so far attended over two hundred and fifty schools and an uncountable number of churches nationwide with my education.
A year after my contract, Dr Angela El Adas Director of AIDS commission terminated my contract leaving me homeless, and my compensation for risking myself and family also taken from me.
These were reasons for my termination.
A journalist called Rebecca Awuah at GBC interviewed me on GTV and in the process showed a gospel music I recorded when I was barely 17 years. Due to that, Angela said i was using the HIV campaign to promote my music.
I was unable to attend a particular program because my mother in law wasn’t available to help me with my new baby.
I heard some staff of AIDS commission say I belonged to an opposition party which I think may also be another factor for my termination.
The termination letter affected me both physically and psychologically for years and I struggled many times with sleepless nights even as at now. But since my termination wasn’t made public, schools and churches continued to engage my services.
I then decided to intensify my education with a movie I produced using my story. I took loan from UT Bank and from some individuals to produce this movie leaving me with huge debt as at now.
My ex-husband decided to run away from Ghana due to stigma which he blamed me severely for.
My children started experiencing rejection at school making my little boy always telling me he wouldn’t go to school again because he was being called AIDS boy. This broke my heart as a mother.
I needed a new life for my children and since Ghana as a nation left me to my fate after all I have done to achieve a great reduction in HIV new infections especially among pregnant women and their babies in Ghana.
In order to get a new life for my children, I took the wrong decision to publicly deny my HIV status. I am not a criminal, neither am I fraudulent AIDS ambassador.
The CID can attest to that. To prove to that, I thereby give the go ahead to the CID to publish my health status which was recorded in Korle bu maternity block in the year 2007, 3rd September. The principal nursing officer at the Korle bu maternity block called Joyce Dodoo conducted my first HIV test on 3rd September 2007.
Yes indeed my current HIV viral load test for some years now shows undetectable meaning I have no virus in my blood anymore, which some may call wonders of scientific retro-viral drugs, but I see it as a miracle.
And I believe any person living with HIV can also achieve with Constance intake of the medication and with prayers.
His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama is the chairman of the AIDS Commission and he launched the campaign I embarked on when he was the vice president of Ghana.
I therefore humbly request of him to pay me my compensation and my shelter which was agreed upon since Madam Angela has taken it away from me.
I do not need a lawyer since am powerless to fight the state, but I therefore will leave the entire nation only to the judgment of the Almighty God if am still denied of my right.
I therefore use this medium to express my sincere gratitude to all who stood by me and to all who judged me wrongly in my trials and tribulations.
God Bless our Homeland Ghana
Dzidzor Yawavi Mensah
(Former Ghana Aids Ambassador)