For me, talking about HIV has always been difficult. Right since school days, when we were taught about the disease and the pain that comes with it, to the recent times when uncomfortable short films seems to have coerce the internet space.
Eventually, I came to realize that it was all assumptions. Meeting a person who is living with HIV was so different, yet so real. The fact that HIV is not contagious until direct contact is constantly fed into our minds. However, sitting next to an infected person still makes most of the people uncomfortable, and that’s also the fact. Probably because that’s how we’ve been brought up; with fear and doubts about HIV and people infected with it. Due to this, we often connect HIV with sex crimes and treat people who are living with it like untouchables.
Not long ago, I got a chance to visit one of the HIV centers in North Delhi. And, surprisingly, it turned out to be a life experience, quite unexpectedly. Like everybody else, I had assumed people to be sad and disappointed in life because they had all the reasons to- They had HIV. However, my assumptions came absolutely untrue when I came across a group of one of the most positive and energetic people I’ve ever met.
I met people who have been living with HIV for more than 17 years. There were 6 year olds who had no idea what HIV was, in the first place. They were average people with extraordinary energy and spirit to live. My thoughts went to those who smoke, drink and care nothing about their health while in front of me were people who struggle to keep themselves safe from even miniscule infections.
I was amazed to see people who were just as common as me. We share same problems, same fears. Only that their fear of rejection has come true and we as a society have a big role to play in it. They’ve been abandoned by their families. There is nobody who understands their pain. They were left to die without monetary help for treatments.
At HIV centers, they found people to talk to. Here, they were accepted and that’s all they need from society, from us. They might not have the money to buy medicines but they do have a will to live and a hope to be loved. And, that makes them bigger than each one of us.
Written By: Mohd Rahil