Tuesday, 2 December 2014


There is so much false information spread about stigma and discrimination with HIV/AIDS. It seems that blame is being passed to family and care workers.

We are being told that people stop going to care centres because of stigma and discrimination by health workers. There is more to it than that.

People in villages are watching other people and ready to criticize. Why does that woman go to the town every month? We hear she goes to the health centre. 

Family members say she has a box of antiretroviral drugs in her bilum. Once that news gets out, she will never go again.

The woman has HIV infection but afraid to tell even her husband. How can she go to the health clinic without her husband finding out? She has to get money for a bus fare.

He will bash her and accuse her of infecting him. She knows she got the virus from him. What does she say to her father when she asks for money? It is easier not to go.

She has family who lives near the health centre. But she cannot stay with them. How does she explain coming to the health centre every month or two? It is easier not to go.

Her sister in law wants to go to town with her. But she cannot do that. She will want to know why she is going to the health centre. She will tell the clan when she returns to the village. It is better for the woman not to go.

There are always several clan members at the health centre. Why is our wantok coming for treatment? She comes here all the time. Better for her not to go again.

Linda hid her status from the family for fear that the sisters-in-law would pass the news on to their families. I wrote on her status on internet but never in our Positive Living column in the newspaper.

On her death, the family told the clan and neighbours that she was being attacked by a spirit skeleton man who lived on her shoulders and stole the food from her mouth. That is why she looked like a skeleton. Linda refused to go to any health centre.

People in the final stages of AIDS suffer dementia and imagine all kinds of wrongs against them. Before we criticize health workers, we need to consider that any harsh words or actions may be delusions or hallucinations on the part of the AIDS sufferer.

Linda claimed to others that I left her alone in the house. But she refused to go to town. I had to go to work and do the shopping. She claimed that she was starved while family ate. But she refused to eat. She would not let any family live with us.

Towards the end, people often go into denial for the second time. Damon Courtenay believed in the final months that he had been cured of AIDS. See report below Dementia frightens families.

The daughter of a friend died believing that she could stop the ARV and take daily doses of holy spirit water. Many people die having stopped their ARV and started taking herbs which ends their lives with immunity of the HIV to the drugs.

It is a frightening thought for people suffering HIV/AIDS to know they have to take ARV for the rest of their lives. Taking TB medicine for 6 months is bad enough. But the sufferer has to go to a health clinic for the next 30-40 years.

People need a carer to be responsible for food, water, rest, relaxation, unbroken supply of ARV drugs and drugs taken as prescribed every day.

Many people do not have the discipline to look after themselves. So don’t blame any one person.

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