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What it feels like to die of AIDS

What is it like to die of AIDS? What does it feel like? This article in PlusNews is a heart-rending example. And Tom Davis’s video at bottom helps you understand the emotional cost of AIDS.    Thembi (last name withheld) is a 33-year-old HIV-positive mother of three who has lived i…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
What is it like to die of AIDS? What does it feel like? This article in PlusNews is a heart-rending example. And Tom Davis‘s video at bottom helps you understand the emotional cost of AIDS. 
Thembi (last name withheld) is a
33-year-old HIV-positive mother of three who has lived in rural poverty
all her life. She lives alone with her children amid the low green hills
of Swaziland’s central Manzini region, while her husband is away
working in South Africa.

“I am worried that I messed up my treatment. I have missed clinic
appointments. Sometimes when this happens I run out of medications. I
started ARVs almost two years ago, but it is off and on. I am alone most
of the time with my three small children. I have no money for bus fare
and the clinic is too far to walk. Also I am very tired most days. If I
could follow my treatment better maybe I would have more energy, but I
do the best I can.

“The children have to be looked after. The neighbour’s two-year-old
girl drowned in a bucket of water. She fell in head first. It was only
five minutes, but when her mother returned she was dead. Something like
that scares me more than missing my medications.

“I have not told my husband I am HIV positive. I got it from him, so
I know he must have HIV but he hasn’t tested. They tested me when I was
pregnant with my youngest. She is now two years old. I am silent
because he chased away his first wife when he learned she was
HIV-positive. I am [his] second wife. The first [wife] fell ill and when
she told him she was HIV [-positive] he sent her to her parents’
homestead. He blamed her. He did not test because maybe he was scared
but I tested, because of her.

“No one knows I have HIV but the clinic… No one must know I have
HIV. They can blame me and chase me away. Even the children, they call a
person with AIDS a `rotten potato’. People shun you. People die of AIDS
and no one will say this is the reason because then some relatives will
refuse you to be buried in the family graveyard.

“When I go to the clinic I take my children. I tell my in-laws we
are going for their check-ups. I hide my ARVs where no one will find
them. I feel very alone doing this. But I don’t want to die. I love my
children so much. I love my husband even though he can be ignorant and
cruel. But he is better off with me in his life than with me dead.

“We have nothing, no electricity, and the water comes from far away.
I like to sing. We sing and pray together as a family. My children like
to hear me sing. They have their favourite songs they ask me to sing. I
will stay alive so I can sing for them a long time.” 

Comments (13)

  • I just found out my sister is HIV positive and she has nt disclosed to any1 and she just had her second baby and i dont think any1 knows. I know having Hiv is not the end of the world and that a person having it can live a long healthy life. The problem is i’m in denail about it and i think she is 2. But she 1nce had a partner who died of Aids but her partner is also unfaithful and has another baby outside. I dnt know who infected who but i’m scared for my sister and i dont know how to handle this. My parents wud disown her. I’m scared coz she never got tested on her 1st baby. What if she also infected her.

  • And the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
    Thats what this reminds me. I don’t want my reward to be here on this Earth. But gosh darn if I’m not privileged and therefore have a responsibility to those who can’t help themselves. There is no way out of that responsibility…no way around it, no way under it, no way through it. No explanations will be good enough in the end before God…. well gosh God, I had so much to do… you know… those meetings and stuff… shopping, Starbucks… fellowship lunches… and those good deeds of babysitting for a friend… sometimes my random acts of kindness just seem so small and insignificant compared to people dying of AIDS and need help with their children, getting to a clinic for crying out loud.

  • I spent so many years turning a blind eye to the hurt, pain and suffering in the world. Praise God that He has opened my eyes to see. Yet, through this process I am left feeling helpless in my wealth. At a loss to know where to direct my gifts, skills & talents. I feel like I have too much. Where do I start, what do I do to help people like Thembi? I pray, I give but I want to do more,more. So sad.

  • Seth, What is like to die from AIDS??

    I don’t know personally. But in 2002 I got a call from my mother, my sister was on life support and the doctors did not know why all her organ systems were shutting down.
    The next day after I arrived. I found Kelly, my sister, on a breathing machine and Dialysis machine.
    The tests were conclusive, she had full blown AIDS and her body was shutting down.
    It was funny how this hospital treated her like she had leprosy. My sister died two days later. She did not tell anyone she was HIV positive not even her husband. I think it was because of shame. She was afraid of how she would be received.
    Kelly had been a christian for a while but still did not feel the freedom to tell the truth of her health.
    She had been with my family for two weeks a six months prior to her death. Not once did she disclose her situation.
    I think if it were not for the shame she would still be alive today with the help of Arv’s.

    I have met women in Swazi with HIV/AIDS.
    There has to be more education on this in Swazi to make a difference.
    Also along with Arv’s, people have to make sure they have enough food and water, which is difficult in Swaziland.

    Something has to change Seth to make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Swazi. I am praying for what the Lord might have our family do in the process.

    I am open for suggestions, but we, the body, cannot sit idly by and do nothing.

  • so many people here need to experience this first hand. if that does not break your heart and spur you to action, then you are not really alive

  • Well my 1st experience with the hiv/aids virus was with my 2nd to oldest sister melissa ann. She was a confident, beautiful strong minded young woman. Even though she had many positve qualities about her she was also still human. She had vulnerabilities when it came to how she choose a boyfriend. She lived her life no holds barred. Once at work there was a blood drive for the workers she lived life and was also a giver for life she was always donating blood I think she did it for the pleasured fullfilment it gave her inside knowing her sacrifice would help someone someday. But this blood donation would change all of our lives and our view of hiv. When she was told she would have to be retested because her blood tested positve for hiv I don’t know if she did or not because we all instantally went into denial and shame. Therefore melissa ann never received any treatment ever she died 2yrs latter from full blown aids. Aids is a horrible suffering death that shows no mercy. I am know taking care of my one sister left who also has hiv, but I will not be ignorant again I will learn about hiv/aids to sducate myself and so should everyone. This is a horrible virus to have to live with alone. I am so sorry melissa that I did nothing

  • Good day everyone, my name is Miss Tenesia Duncan from USA, i have been suffering from Hiv/Aids for over 7years now, and suddenly, i have spent all my money all to make sure i get healthy all day, but happily, month of may 5th 2013, i came in contact with a traditional doctor also known as a Dr Freedom on a newspaper and internet who has help much people to cure their aids disease, firstly i taught it was a joke until i contacted him at” [email protected] he help me out when i got to the hospital my doctor told me i am free from Hiv/Aid thank you once again Dr Freedom, email him so that he also help you out. [email protected]

  • Radicals in anything are usually self righteous. Religion should be about compassion, empathy and kindness without pity. I seriously doubt if Jesus would have kicked sand in the face of people with HIV or full blown aids Hate usually comes out when people are scared. The hate and condemnation is more likely to cause a problem than the disease. When God comes down and tells me that all people with HIV or AIDs are evil, disgusting and against his laws, I will believe it. And no, I don’t have AIDs or HIV, nor am I gay. I have something in common with those with the above. We are all human. Love is love, and sexual orientation and maybe if people were a little more understanding and educated, there would be no reason for people to hide. We have no right to pass judgement. Only God can do that and my guess is that he will see love, not lust and not sin.

  • We should all stand up for people who either can’t stand up for themselves or are too scared to say anything. Our society seems to be hung up on anything they perceive as sexual in nature. Sex is an expression of love.
    ]Every person gay person I have every known had to go through a long, extremely difficult period before they finally accepted their sexual orientation. Once they get there, they often keep their sexual orientation to themselves fearing rejection from one or all family members, and worrying about being targeted for a hate crime. They didn’t choose to be gay. Spouting religion at them or trying to counsel them straight on causes low self esteem. distrust with the therapist or pastor/priest and anger. they have to bury to function.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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