I recently read about a girl named Keren Dunaway. Doesn't ring any bells? Don't worry, I didn't know her either. But after reading her captivating story, I wish I found out about her sooner. Let me tell you a bit more about the life of this strong young woman.
Keren's sister was born in 1994, but was quickly diagnosed with Pneumoystis pneumonia and died after 5 months. When Keren was born in 1995, she had the exact same symptoms. After a test, the little girl was diagnosed with HIV and her parents were diagnosed with the virus too.
From then on, Keren's life became a struggle. She started ARV therapy with the drug AZT, but after four years she became resistant to AZT and switched to stavudine and didanosine. When she was 7, this medication gave her pancreatitis, so she had to stay in the hospital for two months. Keren left the clinic as an eight-year old girl weighing less than 22 kg. After that, she started her current treatment with Lopinavir/Ritonavir, lamivudine and tenofovir.
Unfortunately, being sick wasn't the only thing Keren had to cope with. Discrimination and rejection dominated her childhood. Her parents helped her through these years, as they were always fighting for justice.
Crazy, right? In ten years, this girl has experienced a lot more suffering than any of us might ever experience. But did that stop her from living her life? Nope!
In 2004 Keren Dunaway became an HIV activist who tells the world about her story. Along with her mom, she works for the ‘Keys Foundation' that her parents founded in 1999. They created the magazine ‘Llavecitas' or ‘Little Keys', together with a radio program. In 2008, when she was 12 years old, Keren spoke at the opening of the International World AIDS conference in front of more than 10.000 people. She recently did an internship at UNAIDS and says that she wouldn't change a thing from her past.
Keren Dunaway: "I have suffered stigma and discrimination, I have been bullied, I have been given nasty names, I have played alone for years, I have been rejected from schools, but that hasn't stopped me. I will fight for human rights and show the world that HIV is not the same as death. This is just the beginning of my story."
Source: Keren Dunaway testimony - http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/posts/a-testimony-on-hiv