Testimony of Rev Engr. Isaiah Arinze – A Cleric of the Anglican Communion of Nigeria
My name is Rev Engr. Arinze Isaiah, a native of Anambra State. I am an ordained priest according to the Anglican Communion doctrine. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, a husband and father to a 1year old son.
I was the first Anglican priest to declare my HIV positive status and since then I have had lots of trouble and have lost everything. Due to the frustrating seclusion form some of the clerical duties I used to perform in my parish by my superiors, and at the end they refused me from getting married and threw me out of the Archdeaconry that I was serving under. As a qualified engineer, I got a job with a construction company and they also through their numerous pre-employment medical tests knew of my HIV status and threw me out later.
As the only son of my parents who is being looked upon to step into the shoes of my dead father according to the Igbo tradition, my family members reaction to knowing my status was rejection to allow me suffer the recompense of my sin. So, I decided to commit suicide as the only means of denying myself the misery of what am going through in life. I got all my certificates and valuables and burnt all of them [as I write this I don’t have any certificates of my life educational pursuits]. Then I got into my room and drank a fresh acid. Fortunately for me, my landlord heard my groaning came to my rescue and took me to a hospital where I spent 7days [the marks are still on my lips].
During this period in the hospital, I had a new revelation about the new phase of life from God. He said that this is my new ministry and calling to reach out to PLWHAs who have are going the same predicament and help fight their cause. I have since been committed to the calling for the past 6years and God has touched many through my Ministry. I have been exposed to the various phases that were different from my own the course of interaction with fellow PLWHAs and one that struck me was the vindictive tendencies of wanting to strike back at the society as result of the rejection, stigma and discrimination that these persons pass through. In a blink of an eye they [PLWHAs] lose their means of earning, trust of the community and love from loved ones; with this they are left with little opportunity but to excuse themselves from public life and decision taken at that point is in most times detrimental to the society, response and the individual.
Today, I am blessed to be married to woman who is HIV negative and a son that is also HIV negative. These were possible because of my early exposure to seek for information about my condition in the hands of those who can provide them. My joining NINERELA+ has further broadened my views about creating sustainable interventions that are faith based tolerant and can used to champion the cause of PLWHAs and PABAs. Being a person living with HIV does not limit ones positive contributions to their society and personal live if they are engaged and empowered to do so.