“HIV doesn’t kill people, but stigma does” – based on a true story

Yes, that’s right. We being in the 21st centenary have still not been able to tackle the most integral part of HIV and AIDS and mind you that this is some thing people them selves need to sort out for the betterment of the man kind. Most importantly if we don’t do this today this will never happen and thus help us to eliminate stigma completely from this earth. Below is a real story that happened in Sri Lanka in year 2000, which even caught the attention of lot of non governmental, governmental and media organizations during that time.

A stay at home wife who had never held a job, Princey had no idea what HIV or AIDS was. Her husband a hotel worker had gone abroad to work in Germany in 1994. It was only after his return in 2000 that he fell seriously sick and a hospital test revealed he had AIDS.

Princey’s husband contracted HIV through unprotected sex in Germany where he was working for six years. Princey being a house wife and having two children, who were schooling, was a faithful wife to his husband. After the husbands return, he suddenly felt sick and was admitted to the hospital, the doctors were desperate and could not figure out what was wrong with him and at that moment the only test, which was left was the HIV blood test. The doctors analyzed his blood of course after their consent.

Princey and her two kids were stunned suddenly after the day the blood samples were taken for the HIV test. It was a completely different feeling and treatment. Princey was called to the doctor’s office to be briefed on the report. When she went there it was strange for her as she knew nothing about the report and she was being insulted, harassed by the minor staff of the hospital and finally the doctor came in and was told that her husband was affected by AIDS.

When attention focused on my husband, he did not have any privacy or confidential rights. There was a breach of confidentiality by the minor employees of the hospital when we went to seek health care. Quite unnecessarily we had to face attacks and innumerable difficulties. This was hard and I suffered enough overcoming these hurdles. I have had to face every difficulty that life has to offer. So there is nothing new that can happen to me now. I have overcome these barriers and come a long way in life with patience and will power. I am happy about this. In future if there is anything I can do, I hope to do it well”

said Princey answering a question of what the trouble she was facing after her husband was diagnosed as an AIDS patient.

Ostracized and hounded by the villagers Princey found him after a three day search in a temple in Colombo crying hysterically. His mouth was burned from the poison he had taken and although doctors had fought to save his life he had died that day of poisoning. I recall Princey telling this story to us and she was telling that, the doctors at the Kalubovila Hospital in Dehivala was very cooperative, knowing the fact that he was a AIDS patient, but they couldn’t really help him because they couldn’t trace what the poison that he had consumed.

When Princey’s house was set on fire by neighbours she took her two children and sought refugee with her parents. For her, the nightmare was not yet over. Finally, when she had her own HIV test, and it showed that she was also positive. Her brothers and the rest of the family did every thing they can to keep her moral up because of the two kids who were still schooling.

Princey then happen to meet Dr. Kamalika Abeyratne, who was a person living with HIV at that time, who changed her entire mind set and assured her that she still can live a normal life.  Dr. Kamalika’s story was yet another pathetic story of the history of our own health system, where it failed to give one of its own medical doctors safe blood when she met with a serious accident and needed blood during her operation. She passed away shortly after she was diagnosed as HIV positive, and she was one of the first persons in Sri Lanka who opened up her HIV status to the public. Today Princey is the President of the organization named Lanka Plus formed to help the people living with HIV, with the assistance and support of Dr. Kamalika Abeyratne.

Answering to the question of how she would continue her work, she said that

We have to give correct information to society about HIV and AIDS. What is HIV, what is AIDS, how is it transmitted and how it is not transmitted. Undoubtedly this message needs to go the younger generation. Till they marry, youth needs to be cautious about their sexual behaviour or delay sex till marriage. Pre marital relationships, sudden or casual relationships shouldn’t lead to sex. My advice to husbands and wives is to live life trusting each other totally – it is not enough one partner being the trusting one – the trust must be mutual”.

Princey is just one women with courage out of the many in this world, who are trying their level best to fight this epidemic and to make sure that “stigma” being eliminated from our earth to make some one living with HIV or and AIDS a normal life.

Always remember more than the virus killing a person, stigma will do it.

Photograph ©Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Interview with Princey Mangalika by Chulie De Silva

1 Response to ““HIV doesn’t kill people, but stigma does” – based on a true story”

  1. 1 Sane May 25, 2012 at 02:30

    Uplifting story

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