Against All Odds: HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Indigenous Papuans.
Mama Yuli, HIV-positive mother and activist.
In 2004, Mama Yuli contracted HIV from her husband, whom later died from AIDS. Prior to the diagnosis Mama Yuli had never heard of HIV or AIDS. As a Christian and a faithful wife she never thought that she would get infected. At her worst point, Mama Yuli was just skin and bones weighing only 22 kilograms (48 pounds). After falling ill she experienced discrimination from her neighbors. Kids used to pick mangoes from the tree in front of her house but their parents barred them from coming to her yard due to fear of infection. Mother’s Hope Foundation, another local NGO based in Jayapura, came to her aid and provided her with assistance. They also provided HIV/AIDS education to Mama Yuli’s neighbors and family members, reducing stigma against her.
After regaining her health Mama Yuli made her status public by giving a testimonial in front of her church congregation. She courageously disclosed her status and shared her experiences publicly throughout Papua. Mama Yuli’s came forward in an effort to raise awareness, reduce stigma, encourage others to get tested for HIV and to take ARV medication regularly. Ultimately, Mama Yuli wants to prove by example that one does not have to die from HIV/AIDS and that a diagnosed person is still able to provide for their family and live a productive life. In 2012 Mama Yuli celebrated her 8-year anniversary of taking ARV.