“For a long time, I lost everything,” says Vincent Wanjohi. “I lost my mind. People told me I was doing things, and I wouldn’t believe them. I couldn’t remember anything.”
Vincent found out he was HIV positive in October of 2011 and, at first, he says he was incredibly shocked.
“I had overworked myself,” he says. “I was so tired that I slept through for two days straight and then I thought, ‘This isn’t normal.’ I could barely wake up or get out of bed. When I went to the hospital, it was difficult to test my blood because I was anemic. So they had to give me medications and supplements before they could get enough.”
Once they did, Vincent learned why he had been so sick. And although he had been losing an unhealthy amount of weight, he wasn’t living the kind of promiscuous lifestyle many associate with the disease. To this day, he still doesn’t know how he became infected.
“Eventually I accepted it,” he says. “But because I was still so unhealthy, I needed to wear multiple jackets and blankets. We used a lot of resources at home to keep me warm.”
And with those financial challenges came questions about faith, as well. A self-proclaimed doubter, Vincent says that before he was saved he saw no value in religion.
“I couldn’t believe what I read in the Bible,” he says. “There was Moses and Abraham and I thought, ‘This is fiction.’ Why would God bring Himself so low to speak to a human being?”
But, then, Vincent learned the answer.
“I was very sick and my mother was praying over me, massaging my hand,” he explains. “I wanted her to go so I could be alone, but she kept following me around the house, chasing me with prayer. When she left, I thought I was about to die. I was alone, waiting for it to end. And then I heard a voice. I started trembling everywhere and I heard the voice say, ‘You would have died if not for those prayers.’ That was when I realized prayer could do something. That was when I changed my perception about God.”
Today, Vincent has found a supportive community at CARE for AIDS, which he says has given him the nourishment he needs – emotionally, physically, and spiritually – to keep going.
“Now I know there is a God,” he says. “At first I wouldn’t believe it. But He gave me another chance.”
Vincent’s story is one of 100 client and staff stories that will be released in the CARE for AIDS coffee table book “100 Faces” this fall. You can preorder your copy here.