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What would be your response when someone approaches and shares with you openly about their life? And this is what someone said…
“I was tested HIV positive. What does that mean? My family members were informed by the doctor about my health status. They changed. They gave me a cup; a plate and I can’t help myself to cooked dishes and drinks. I was told not to touch or hold my nephew. I have to be cautious with my movement in the house. They don’t care about how I feel but I have to be sensitive to their needs. I am angry and disappointed and I don’t feel like going home anymore.”

“My teacher said I have DIRTY blood. I mustn’t play with my classmates. In the class, I sit by myself in one corner. Nobody talks to me, plays with me or eats with me. Why!!! I am so lonely and I don’t want to go to school anymore.”

“People said an HIV person cannot get married; cannot have children and have to stay single. I have to use a condom if I want to have sex. And God has punished me for my wrong doings. I am a sinful person. That is why I have HIV.”

“I love my husband very much. I know he is HIV positive but I don’t care. I want to start a family with him. I made a decision to have sex with him without condom so that I could get pregnant. We have a child now but why does the society including our families could not and refused to support us in achieving our dream. Am I wrong to have a baby with him? It is OK to be HIV positive. I don’t have problem with it but you do.”
Initially, I was very uneasy having to listen to these conversations. I didn’t know what to say and how to react. Many times, I made wrong moves, passed judgments and blamed them for being irresponsible.

Then I learnt to embrace and love HIV/AIDS. I started to see and feel differently whenever I am with people living with HIV / AIDS (PLWHA). I am experiencing each and every being, they are beautiful, loving and have dreams.

They live their life with hopes and treasure every moment they have. They give and share openly when acceptance and openness are shown. It gives them a safe platform to express themselves. They feel relieved for being able to share their secret and their eyes sparkle with joy.

They are empowered and learn to be responsible individuals. They see the importance to tell their love ones about their HIV status. I am learning that they are very gutsy, brave, daring and highly determination individuals to live to their fullest.

But what’s stopping many other PLWHAs from doing the same thing? The answer is us, the society. We cannot accept and discriminate them out of fear. We don’t care and are rude to them. We become very judgmental and start to curse them. We pray that they would die faster and not burden us.

We take life for granted. We are safe from HIV/AIDS because we don’t take drugs, have sex with multiple partners and no blood transfusion. Is that true? How sure are you?

I would like to share that I feel so safe being with them. By knowing their HIV status help me to look after myself. I could have been infected by my husband if he is very secretive about his past life. Thus, do you want people around you to be honest or to lie about their health status? And our non-acceptance behavior could have driven them to be more aggressive, revengeful, angry and hurt. They in return may decide to spread the virus and infect others deliberately.

Today in your life, you have to make a decision both to fall in love and embrace HIV/AIDS. I would like to challenge you to make a shift in your being to enable you to experience differently. Take joy and love in everything you do especially in the area of HIV / AIDS.

I am sharing my real experiences having to work with PLWHA at Pusat Serenti. This is the first time I am feeling differently because I have shifted in my belief about HIV / AIDS issues. I am falling in love with HIV / AIDS. So CAN you.

Christine Low
Assistant Manager
Penang Family Planning Association
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