Live and Let Live

Dec 01, 2010

They are happy and courageous enough to say they have HIV, but what about the society?

They have pulled. They have sniffed. They have chased. They have shot. They have pushed. They have been found smoking and lying unconscious in the alleys. Their friends have bailed them out from the one night stay at the jail. And they are still human.

They were found naked in the streets. They have been abused. They have abused others. They have lost count of their sexual encounters and they don’t remember when they lost their virginity. Yet they are happy and courageous enough to say that they have HIV.


134 A drug user self injects. One third of Nepal's drug users have HIV. (Photo by Brendan Brady/IRIN)


Having been rejected by their society, they live in a world of their own created by those who have been there. These people are their guides for a stable future. These guides are their hope for the life ahead and they have very little to look forward to. But optimism is surprisingly high to the level beyond normalcy.

I couldn’t help but admire the stand. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself. They have done everything they’ve wanted to in their lives. They have lived their lives in their own terms; defining their own set of rules – rules of freedom and they think they are free.

There are few who feel guilty for their mistakes. There are many who feel they need extra care from whatever agency they can get their hands on, set aside their deeds. There are innumerable who can’t afford to say they are HIV positive and lastly, there are many who don’t know they are positive.

Many don’t even know what they have done wrong to have acquired such a disaster. Many don’t even know it could be a disaster. Some aren’t old enough to realise what is going on and a neonate dies without even knowing what went wrong. Some have committed mistakes that have made their counterparts suffer and unknowingly their offspring, too. The lucky ones will be free from the monster but the unlucky ones will carry it until the burden becomes too heavy that childhood gives away. And most of the time it gives way.

What is there to be optimistic about? What else can we do for them and for ourselves?

So, the bleak picture has been painted but the question remains: What is there to be optimistic about? What else can we do for them and for ourselves? But the biggest question of all: when will we succeed in defeating the virus? These questions are difficult to answer but need to be pondered upon. With money going to research in hefty numbers can we expect any definitive cure or at least hope for some means of prolonging life? We hope so.

But we need to look forward. Someone will definitely come up with something for us to rejoice upon. That day will come. But the human mind usually doesn’t work according to the rules set by Mother Nature and, thus, she challenges it again and again. Every disease is not a small pox. Every disease should not resurrect like malaria. And we cannot afford any diseases to wipe out humanity.

The monster has now made alliance with tuberculosis to strengthen its existence and an alliance is always lethal. If this is the struggle for existence we can only try to be the fittest. Then perhaps we will ensure our survival.


This post was first published in V.E.N.T. in March 2009.