‘I died several times, but I didn’t die.’ Brand Expert, Kenny Badmus, shares his story of living with HIV in the last 15 years

‘I died several times, but I didn’t die.’ Brand Expert, Kenny Badmus, shares his story of living with HIV in the last 15 years

To mark World AIDS Day which was yesterday, December 1st, Nigerian brand expert and founder of Orange Academy, Kenny Badmus, took to his Facebook page to share his inspiring story of living successfully with HIV for the last 15 years.

Read his story below.


‘Today, Monday December 1st, is World AIDS day, and I’m celebrating my resolve to live with this damn virus all these many years without letting it define who I am. Every journey I take, every picture of me you see, and every new challenge I take on are all huge reminders that I must never stop living my best life. So, I decided to share my journey with you today. Honestly, I don’t know what exactly you are dealing with but I’m writing you this to hold tight to your dream. Here’s a quick sketch of my journey from the first day I tested positive, 15 years ago. My upcoming book tells the full story.

1999. After three years of different pains and minor illnesses, I was encouraged by my best friend and Professor Soyinka, an HIV specialist, to go get tested so I could face my fear. I had just resumed work as a Copywriter at McCann. I’d rather not know. I was working on Coca Cola, and I would rather live in the joy of that dream. It was that point when you assured yourself this was only a lie from the pit of hell. I had not been a ‘bad boy,’ I would assure myself.

2000. I tested, and it came back positive. I blamed everyone but myself. I wanted to end my life immediately. Trust me, I did try a few things. Then I called on God. I told God to change the status because it didn’t look good on Him. I sang. I fasted. I gave offerings. Prophet offerings. I died several times, but I didn’t die. I was always back to myself. I came up with a few pseudo coping skills, but I was always depressed. The picture of HIV back then was very gory, and I was wasting away.

2001. I realized I didn’t die yet. My flesh had not fallen off. My heart was still beating. I still liked rice and pepper stew. I still had early morning erections – and not just in the early mornings. Shouldn’t I be dead by now? I began to question everything I ever knew.

2002. I had a local operation for tonsillitis, and it brought my immune system to level zero. I was infected by everything you could name. But I was so happy that I was going to die finally. Wouldn’t it be nice to die just like that? Unfortunately, I did not die. I was bedridden for four months and was forced to live by myself. It was there that my Exodus happened. I realized for the 1st time that the real death is when we refuse to live out our full potential. Death is not a physical thing. It is an emotional thing. When we stop living. When we stop laughing. When we stop learning. When we stop crying. Or feeling. So I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital. There, I started the anti-HIV medication. (Trust me, it doesn’t kill as I had feared)

2003. I started living and loving myself. As a creative person, I created Orange Academy to start teaching people how to find their creative self. Love themselves. Tell compelling stories. I put all my life into it. Then, I started to undo all my pseudo coping skills. Oh, I had tons of them. Like getting married, wanting people to accept me, being the ‘yes’ man to Ministers of God – something I did in times past to assure myself I was doing ‘God’s will.’ I stopped sending my money to Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and started investing it on people I could see around me. Little did I realize that God didn’t send me to do anything to gain his favor or search for Him. God had never been lost. I was meant to find myself and live my authentic life. Lift people up. Fight the oppression around me. I started spending time with myself. I started working out at the gym. I started to travel to enjoy the universe.

2008 – 2010. I looked in the mirror, and I saw a better me. A younger me. A healthier me. No more lies. At Orange Academy, we started the ART OF POSITIVE THINKING and started to use our arts and money to assist people living with debilitating diseases or social conditions. I took those layers of lies off my soul. I started writing my memoir – my full story as a preacher boy trying to find God who art in heaven! [THE EXODUS coming out next year ]

2014. November. I had an appointment with my doctor in Maryland, USA, and he asked me: ‘What’s your secret?’ All your medical tests are amazing. We tested for everything possible. No new infections or conditions. Blood work is excellent. Nothing at all to worry about. Perfect health. Just that you are still HIV+.’

‘Oh really?’ I said. ‘I thought that had disappeared.’

‘Well, it’s still there, sadly. I hope Science gets the cure someday soon.’

We both laughed and then I fought back a little tear in my eyes. This dude doesn’t know how grateful I am for HIV. Thank God for HIV. I wish I never had it, but Lord I did! It made me run after myself. Maybe I would never have understood myself; that no one can save us but us. Maybe I would never know the refreshing power that loneliness can bring when we embrace our broken self.

Here’s what I want you to take away: don’t end your dreams just because you are presented with bad news along the way. Remember, HIV doesn’t kill anymore; it’s ignorance that kills. Use that bad news to ride onto your next phase. It will be tough. I won’t lie. Don’t be afraid to live vulnerably. It’s empowering. Empower yourself by loving yourself. Find yourself. Give yourself to people without expecting anything in return. If you are a Faith person, keep living your Faith in love for humankind. Empty yourself and accept to be filled with kindness from others. Believe me, there are still angels out there to lift you up.

*NOTE: Potentially I cannot infect anyone with HIV since my viral load went to undetectable since 2008. Nevertheless, I still advise that you take precaution with sexual partners as an HIV+ person, so they don’t infect you with STDs. If you have not tested, know your status. It’s liberating. Starting an HIV medication now doesn’t only protect your loved ones but can make you live even longer than people without HIV.

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  1. Samaurai
    December 02, 05:04 Reply

    I’m very happy for you, Mr Badmus.
    I’ve read somewhere, and I’ve come to the realization, that people living with HIV and who are taking appropriate care of themselves are healthy, even much healthier than people who are HIV negative. HIV positive people even become wary and scared that HIV negative people might get them infected with diseases. As funny as it may sound, that’s one irony about HIV.

  2. gad
    December 02, 05:26 Reply

    So nice and inspiring. Pls guys shouldn’t see this as a license to get adventurous. Its still better to remain negative than be positive and living positively. This is only an encouragement to the already infected and for people around them to desist from the foolishness of stigmatisation .

  3. Dennis Macauley
    December 02, 05:42 Reply

    I read this story and shared it on my facebook! He is someone that I know, so it’s all very inspiring!

    I am earnestly waiting for the book, I am certain it will be shelf worthy

    • pinkpanthertb
      December 02, 06:33 Reply

      Do lemme know when it hits the stores (If i dont already know) Won’t mind digging into it

      • xpressivejboy
        December 02, 15:10 Reply

        Pinky, it’s under publishing.

        He sent me a mail, at a time I was so engrossed with my prep for a professional exams, asking for my input on how best to get the story…(see dem Amebos) Nne, let’s go private. Kenny is a legend of our time…The Exodus on FB already has over 1000 followers…the truth is, a lot can still be done with our beautiful lives, so much is in Us.

  4. Kryss S
    December 02, 05:45 Reply

    Lol @ “yes man” to pastors. Ain’t we all once in a while. Happy you didn’t let d disease ruin ur life or control d way u think. HIV is real, lets thread carefully. Use a condom.
    OAN: Lemme say the truth nd only d truth, when I first saw this story on LIB, the first thing that escaped my mouth was “OMG! Brother is fine ooooooooooo!”. I was just tracing d shape of his jawline, beards nd all! Someone actually commented that his is gay, is it true?

  5. KingBey
    December 02, 05:46 Reply

    Hmmmmm…..see as Oga Kenny wan carry style sell im market for that last note…..issokay ! *who cares for a morning coffee*

    • A-non
      December 02, 06:49 Reply

      @Kingbey, your mind is in the Mushin kinda gutter!

      • A-non
        December 02, 06:54 Reply

        Oh! I heard from a grape vine that he is now hooked to a certain S***n O****u so I actually thought he was trying to be a shoulder to lean on for HIV positive peeps. Ignorant me??

        • pinkpanthertb
          December 02, 06:56 Reply

          *squinting at the morse code* Mbok can you decode that name for me? Hooked to a certain who?

      • A-non
        December 02, 07:02 Reply

        Pinky!!! You seriously want me spilling the full names of Kenny’s man???

        Mbakwa biko…oburu otu ahu, you will have to keep squinting!

        *innocently faces work for the day*

        • pinkpanthertb
          December 02, 07:11 Reply

          Oya whisper it to me. *inching closer and positioning ear*

      • enigmous
        December 02, 07:17 Reply

        A-non, nnaa biko, can I get an IV to this your exclusive grape vine? I really need me to learn how to break codes.

        *Say yes, say yes, cos I need to know*

        Oh, how I miss grape vine stories.

      • chestnut
        December 02, 10:45 Reply

        Hian! A-non, if there’s something u know,pls tell us nah,I beg u in d name of God and everything good! How will u just give us half gist and leave us hanging? Is dat how u use to do? Do u even fear God at all? Pls tell us the things u know,biko! #AmeboNaMyWork

  6. FKA Chizzie
    December 02, 07:22 Reply

    I gave this to my HIV+ Bff yst to read and it really brightened up his day, yst being AIDS awareness day, he was down. Like Kenny pointed out, death is not so much a physical thing,its more so mental and a state of mind. If u lose ur will to live, even a common cold will kill.

    Case in point when I lost my dad to cancer on Christmas day, he gave up. he lost his will to live and kept professing that he’d rather die. Well he did. Everynow and then I get angry at him at why he gave up so easily, why he didn’t see the good in life and succumbed to death.

    I like how Kenny shows that HIV doesn’t kill u, its ur mind set that does and the same speaks for most terminal illnesses!

    and PS this pic doesn’t do him justice. the guy is hot, like I would so shag him and have his babies!

  7. Legalkoboko
    December 02, 10:31 Reply

    “Then, I started to undo all my
    pseudo coping skills. Oh, I had tons of
    them. Like getting married,..”

    Reminds me of alora gay brothers forcing conventional marriage on themselves. I think this dude could be gay, and a cool one at that. *smiles *

  8. Andrevn
    December 02, 16:19 Reply

    How so coincidental!!…..I just stepped out a major depressing depression and lo it was world AIDs Day…….*Smiling from Ear to Ear*
    pseudo-coping skills? So true…

  9. A-non
    December 02, 17:56 Reply

    Guess his pseudo-coping skills were actually his promiscuous gay life at some point.

    Someone once mentioned to me about 8 years ago that if I wanted to get laid I should go hook up with Kenny Badmus. That was the first time I heard of him. He had a magazine called Creativiti and was working with Centrespread FCB at the time.

  10. A-non
    December 02, 17:59 Reply

    Wondering what would be going through the mind of anyone he’s ever had sex with…

    One reason why bareback is a no-no

    • Brian Collins
      December 02, 20:29 Reply

      I wonder, if HIV finally has a cure will it be a yes-yes?

      • A-non
        December 02, 22:24 Reply

        I’d like to think it’d be a yes-yes Brian…

  11. innocent ekene
    January 13, 12:37 Reply

    I’m happy people like you stil exist, you have just added more years to my life span on earth because I thought I will be gone soon but my hope is renewed thanks Badmus God bless you this is really really inspiring.

  12. […] the tears characterizing my life as a poz person. I have consumed stories on this blog, from the brave step Kenny Brandmuse took to tell the world that he was HIV Positive and The +++ Journals penned by Temi-D right down to […]

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