The endless grieving, sudden loss of friends and other loved ones– all hurriedly connived to make her world come down crashing around her. The pall of despair was so huge that it took her a long time to find her way again after the crushing crash. That was many years ago when the rumour mill in her school went agog that she was HIV-positive. It was a gigantic task she was obviously incapable of handling during her adolescent years, with schoolmates avoiding her like a plague. Helpless and desolate, Janet had erroneously assumed it was a death sentence.

But instead of joining hands to serve as bulwarks, friends and others whose support Janet badly needed to gather the broken pieces of her life chose to leave her in the lurch when she tested positive to HIV during her secondary school days in Lagos. Out of frustration, she quit schooling and had to forgo her dreams because “everybody was talking about me and pointing fingers at me.” After dropping out of school, she said she pictured herself committing suicide, terrified that testing positive for HIV would cut short her life because having the virus meant dying by instalments.