She revealed that, she lied about her HIV status to protect her children. “I tested positive to HIV in the year 2007.”
Dzidzor Mensah has been a known HIV ambassador for years until she sent the whole nation agog by disclosing in December 2014 that she was HIV negative.
Ms Mensah said a year after she was given the contract to become an HIV ambassador, Dr Angela El Adas, Director of the AIDS commission, terminated her deal, leaving her homeless, and “my compensation for risking myself and [that of my] family also [was] taken from me”.
Read her full letter below
My heartbreaking apology letter to President Mahama and Ghanaians for public denial of my HIV positive status.
My heartbreaking 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 the 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.
1. 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.
2. I was unable to attend a particular program because my mother-in-law wasn’t available to help me with my new baby.
3. I heard some staff of the 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 a 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 had 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 a 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 at the Korle Bu maternity block on 3 September 2007. 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 that with constant 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 I am powerless to fight the state, but I 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)