Q: Can you give us you full name?
A: My name is Victor Olaore Omoshein.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m from Ondo State.
Q: From what I read, you are 26
A: Yes I’m 26 years old; by next year I’ll be 27, so I’m a man.
Activities in the community
I am the president of Badia Youth Vanguard victorin Ijora, Apapa L.G.A., Lagos State. It is the only formidable youth association in the community. It was formed five years ago and every year we elect a new executive to run the affairs of the association. This year January, I was elected president and in February I tested HIV positive. The following month, which was March, I decided to disclose my status. This brought my way a hell of a lot of challenges from members of the club. You see, they don’t want an HIV-positive person to be their president. They decided to impeach me if I was unable to convince them why I should continue. I made them realize that vanguard means leadership of a movement, the leaders of a particular movement in society. HIV is a movement in society: the government is trying its best to reduce the spread, NGOs are not relenting in their effort and since youths are the most affected group, we need to make an impact in the community. For me to be positive as president of the Vanguard, I think I needed to take a vanguard step, which was why I decided to disclose my status. They advised I keep the knowledge to myself. I said I was ready to resign as president if they would not allow me to help my community, first and foremost, by being honest.
We are all victims; so many of us are positive but content to keep it secret. It is my desire to educate our youths so that they won’t fall into the same pit. There is much we can achieve if we want to.
After all the troubles, they all turned over to give me the best support I could ever imagine. I am very happy. For 2006, they want me to retain the presidency, something that has never happened in the Vanguard before. But now everybody is saying Victor, you have to go again because you are doing very well.
Q: Tell me a little about your growing up
A: I happen to be the only male child in my family, we are 4 in number, and I have 3 younger sisters. Early schooling was here. I did the National Diploma Programme in Petroleum Management and Distribution in 1996 and I finished my Chartered Administration course in 2001. I grew up in the ghetto, but I was part of a crop of people that was fortunate to have parents that believe in education and I thank God for my family, they really like education.
My home is a friendly home, we are all friends. My best friend before I tested positive was my mum, we are really very close. The girls are closer to dad. But when I tested positive, I thought it was a man thing, I was unable to disclose to my mum in the first instance because she loved me so much and I wouldn’t want her to cry over my being positive. So I decided to tell my dad.
My dad? He’s a military man, so he said he was afraid to go for the same test, but since I tested positive and am still breathing, he’d go and do his own test. He went, he did his own test, it was negative. Then my mum went, my sisters, everybody tested. They only asked me what are the things that the doctor said I needed, and I told them food. Plenty of meat, plenty of fish, plenty of eggs, beans, and dad asked mum to be giving me these things and they have been giving me lots of these things in the house. That is the best love I could ever have. My family has been very supportive since I tested positive and decided to disclose my status. My father has taken over from mum as my buddy. If I’m going for a television program, he’ll ask me when I’ll be shown on TV, so he can call my younger sisters together and say come, your brother wants to talk about HIV, and they will sit down and watch. Each time I’m preparing to appear on TV as well, I will call them and say dad, watch out on NTA Channel 10, time, 2PM. So, everybody will be struggling not to miss the time.
The most challenging time since I tested positive
The most challenging moment in my life after I tested positive was when I came back from Ghana from a meeting. I was on Rolake’s program on NTA Channel 10. I left school in 1991, and ever since then I have been jobless. I was the only positive male in the company of nine ladies that were disclosing their status. I was talking from the youth angle, the positive youth. Rolake looked at me asked what my qualifications were. She asked if was employed; I said no. She asked if I was ready to work, I said yes. There and then, she asked me to resume a job on August 1st 2005, without an interview, without having to write an application. And on August 1st I resumed work at Positive Action for Treatment Access (PATA).
My community is a high-risk community when it comes to the issue of HIV. Teenage pregnancy, abortion, sexual abuse, rape, these are common things here. Even among the commercial sex workers, we have peer educators and these people were trained to pass the message to their community members. We have tried a lot, so many people are now aware, and condom use is on the increase. We preach abstinence, but we realize it is not working. The alternative for us is to change our focus, and we feel safer sexual practices could be a solution.