Ms Joyce Dzidzor Mensah, former HIV/AIDS Goodwill Ambassador has said she lied when she publicly declared in December 2014 that she never had HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. “I test positive to HIV in the year 2007”, she confessed.
The former HIV/AIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Ghana AIDS Commission revealed in an “apology letter” posted on her Facebook page January 17, 2016.
Ms Mensah wrote, she denied her HIV+ status to protect her children who were experiencing stigma in school. “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”, she wrote.
But that’s not the only reason for her denial. An untimely termination of her contract by Ghana AIDS Commission brought her hardship.
She claimed that her engagement as goodwill ambassador with Ghana AIDS Commission was to last for five years. “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”, she claimed.
As part of the deal she demanded shelter from the Commission. She made that demand f0llowing her experiences with stigma, discrimination and rejection from one house to another. Her demand was agreed to.
However, GAC terminated the contract over some of her activities and issues with terms of her engagement as a goodwill ambassador, after one year of the campaign.
Joyce was left homeless and without compensation. She regretted coming out publicly with her HIV positive status, following the abortion of her contract, “for risking myself and family also taken from me”, she said. She had toured over two hundred and fifty schools and an uncountable number of churches nationwide.
After the termination, she took a bank loan to produce a movie, which has become a huge debt for her now.
The termination has affected her both physically and psychologically. “My ex-husband decided to run away from Ghana due to stigma which he blamed me severely for.” For years, she struggled with sleepless nights, and even now.
“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” she cried.