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.”