This is a story of a person I met in one of my events. Sharing the ordeal, we agreed on the unawareness and judgmental outlook of society for HIV infected people.
It was a typical Sunday, and I was at home, enjoying a hearty breakfast while contemplating whether to start my day with a book or perhaps indulge in an early morning movie. As I relaxed, my phone began to ring from an unfamiliar number. I typically avoided calls from unknown contacts, but the persistent caller made me reconsider. I finally answered, and a gentle voice on the other end inquired if I had participated in a blood donation drive the day before. I confirmed my participation, and her tone became more considerate. She asked me to visit the hospital where she was stationed.
Feeling a bit concerned, I tried to glean more information about why I should visit, but she urged me to come as soon as possible. I hung up, and when my wife asked me who had called, I found myself telling an untruth.
I hopped on my scooter, quickly Googled the hospital’s name, and set out on my journey. All the while, I couldn’t help but wonder what could be wrong with me. I had no known illnesses, and I certainly wasn’t overweight. My mind kept circling back to diabetes, a genetic concern in my family.
Upon arriving at the clinic, I inquired about the lady who had called me and was directed to a waiting room. I sat there, growing increasingly impatient. A middle-aged woman eventually walked in, holding a file. She verified my name, contact information, and place of residence based on the form I had completed during the blood donation drive.
Then, she delivered the news. “You have tested positive for HIV.”
I took a deep breath, and for a moment, everything around me seemed to fade. My senses went numb, objects lost their substance, and my heart felt as though it had paused.
“Take a moment to calm down and listen,” she continued. “Your blood has shown a reaction to the HIV virus, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have AIDS.”
Her words barely registered as I found myself in tears, my mind filled with images of my wife and child.
“How… is this possible?” I managed to ask.
Before I even completed my question, I knew that HIV wasn’t solely about physical relationships or infected needles. However, the stigma associated with it often overshadowed the reasons and led to judgment.
The lady patiently explained the situation to me, delicately inquiring about my recent sexual partners. When I informed her that there were none, she explored other possibilities, such as surgeries or potential needle incidents. But her focus was not on the cause, but rather on what lay ahead.
“There is a cure available now, unlike in the past. Patients on medication lead normal lives.”
I looked away, struggling to process the information.
“There are two crucial things you need to do. First, get your family tested. Second, don’t let stress take over. Medications won’t be effective if you’re overwhelmed by worry.”
I remained silent, my heart heavy. I wasn’t one to express myself openly.
As she continued with the paperwork, she shared stories of other individuals and couples who had faced similar situations and highlighted the importance of managing stress in this day and age. She handed me a letter with my blood test results, intended for the District Hospital.
“This will help you obtain the necessary medications. There may be some procedures, but you will be fine as long as you don’t let your thoughts consume you.”
I thanked her and, on my way home, I looked around at the same road, the same traffic, and the same lights. As I wiped tears while riding the scooter, everything seemed unchanged, but something profound had shifted within me.
This is a story of a person I met in one of my events. Sharing the ordeal, we agreed on the unawareness and judgmental outlook of society for HIV infected people. Hiding the name and details this is a continuation journal aimed to share the story and journey. I hope this will give you perspective and strength if you also are HIV positive. You are not alone. Do write to me if you feel depressed or need someone to talk to.