My experience of HIV and Aids
Today, Friday, December 1 is World Aids Day. Well, the introduction or, rather, intro, as known in media circles, seems very flat and unattractive to a reader.
But the fact of the matter is that the United Nations set aside this day for the world to reflect on the effects of HIV and Aids.
I know that some people have built mansions, have bought state-of-the-art vehicles or have huge sums of money in banks out of HIV and Aids – either through endless workshops, endless allowances or theft. Well, this is not an issue that I want to dwell on today.
I just wanted to share with you, bona fide readers of this column, my experience with HIV and Aids. Not that I am HIV positive, not at all, but some issues which I experienced as a result of the HIV and Aids pandemic.
I am happy that, presently, stigma associated with HIV and Aids is no longer an issue. Many institutions such as Malawi Defence Force, the police, government ministries, departments and agencies and private companies are willing to talk about the scourge.
HIV and Aids is no longer an issue that scares people. Those on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) – life prolonging drugs – openly visit public and private health facilities to get their medicine.
Journalists freely contact those who are HIV positive to conduct interviews. HIV and Aids messages are now everywhere; perhaps very popular after Jesus Christ. However, I sometimes feel guilty. I have been writing articles urging people to go for HIV test, yet I had not gone for the voluntary test until last year.
I was forced to go for HIV tests last year and went three times because of my failing health then.
The latest was when I lost 20kg within a week and I thought, ‘Here I should go for HIV test so that, if I am positive, then I will go on antiretroviral therapy’.
Well, all the tests, the latest being at African Bible Hospital in Lilongwe, I, with my wife on my side, tested negative. It turned out that I had tuberculosis (TB). Thanks to TB Control Manager, Dr James Mpunga, the staff at his private hospital and the staff at Bwaila Hospital for ensuring that I did not die of TB.
In this vein, let me call upon everyone to go for HIV test. When I say everyone, it includes fellow journalists, soldiers, politicians and even medical staff.
I now have the peace of mind because I know of my status. All my children went for HIV tests too and only one was diagnosed with HIV but we do not take him as a sick person. We all love him and he does any type of work, including work some people who do not have HIV can fail to do. Let me say it here that I have lost many of my relatives to to HIV and Aids.
These people died way before ARVs were readily available to ordinary people. I am happy that the government and donors commit huge sums of money to the purchase of ARVs; the government even provides allowances for HIV-positive civil servants.
It is pleasing to note that there are hundreds of non-governmental organisations which are working round the clock to improve the lives of people living with HIV and to ensure that no single soul is lost to HIV and Aids.
These days, people choose to die of HIV and Aids. I know of a woman who was living within my neighbourhood in Area 49, Dubai, who died because she had abandoned her ARVs at the stupid advice of her church pastor.
She is not alone. Many people out there die after they stop taking ARVs at the advice of the so-called men of God. These are not men of God but men of satan.
Let Parliament pass laws which should penalise, harshly, the so-called pastors who advise people to stop taking ARVs. Have a blessed World Aids Day!
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues