National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK) on Wednesday announced the death of the 62-year-old first Kenyan to go public on his HIV status.

Dr. Joe Muriuki passed away at Nairobi Hospital yesterday evening while battling stage four colorectal cancer and had been receiving treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

Muriuki went public on September 20th 1987 when the disease was dreaded and associated with heinous acts of sex.

According to the doctor who diagnosed him at that time, he had three months to live or as the doctors thought.

His wife who was pregnant at the time with their third child also turned out positive after three months but the child turned out to be HIV negative.

Patients with the slim disease as it was known at the time were shunned and Muriuki was applauded to be the first to go public about his status.

“I was a normal man living a normal, lifestyle and a promising career as an accountant at Nairobi City Council. I was losing weight and other symptoms associated with HIV but I thought it was Malaria,” late Muriuki said in a past interview.

A doctor ran some tests including HIV and that was when he realized he had turned out to be HIV positive.

At the time people living with HIV had to face harsh adversities in their day to day activities and Muriuki was not spared either.

He was relegated to a lower position, his in-laws wanted his wife to divorce him, a situation that led to discrimination from family and friends.

He quit his job and relocated to Nyeri, lived a healthy lifestyle and founded the current ‘Know Aids Society’ organization.

Asked how he managed to beat the disease for over 25 years, he revealed that he was always exposed to the newest information about the disease which helped him maintain his health.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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