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HIV+ 24-Year-Old Egyptian Housewife Commits Suicide After Neighbors Force Her to Leave Her Home

Her neighbors in Boulaq decided that Nawal and her family can no longer live in their area because of her HIV status.

Over the past six months, an Egyptian 24-year-old housewife, Nawal*, kept her HIV diagnosis a secret out of fear of the stigma associated with the carriers of the virus in Egypt. Nawal had found out about her status after a frantic trip to the doctor's when her health had suddenly and sharply deteriorated with no prior warning. As revealed by her doctor, Nawal had contracted the virus from her husband, a heroin user who got it from contaminated needles.

The story, which was originally reported by Masrawy, witnessed a dramatic turn of events last Sunday when Nawal's neighbors found out about the couple's status, prompting the area's residents to hold a meeting in which it was informally decided that Nawal and her family are to be forced to leave their home and the area, Boulaq El Dakror, for good.

While initially fiercely fighting back, Nawal was eventually forced to reconsider and give in under paramount pressure from her husband and neighbors. The plan was to move in with her mother-in-law until they manage to sustain a better living situation. As her husband accompanied their two babies, the oldest of which is two-years-old, Nawal climbed up the stairs back to her 5th floor apartment and threw herself out of the window to meet her death a few seconds after.

The story of Nawal mirrors those of the thousands of HIV+ survivors in Egypt. People living with the virus are stigmatised in Egyptian society, as the public perception of it is still centred around the misconception that HIV is a 'lifestyle' disease which only infects gay people and drug addicts. Had there been more awareness, better education, and government protection, things may have turned out differently for Nawal and many others. 

Meanwhile, Nawal's corpse lies in a government morgue awaiting an official burial permission.

If you have any questions about HIV, reach out to the Ministry of Health's AIDS Unit on 08007008000.

Get tested at the nearest free clinic, find them here.

*The name of the victim has been changed.