Today is just another day.
In India about 2,400,000 people will awake and go about their daily chores. The thing that sets them apart from their fellow countrymen is that their bodies have the HIV virus in them.
Many of these 2.4 million do not know that they have the disease. Without doing an HIV blood-test there is know way we can tell a person has HIV. Many do not think they are at risk – and some who know that they may have HIV are too scared to test. But only if we test for HIV can we start treatment.
Testing is key. Today the Jeevan Sahara Kendra is conducting an HIV awareness and testing camp at the Gandhinagar Primary Health centre in Thane. As I write we already have counselled and tested 50 people – many of them TB patients who come 3 times a week for their medications from this govt. health post.
We want more people to be tested. Testing means that I am willing to find out the truth about my status. That I am concerned about who I am and how my actions will affect others. Getting an HIV negative report is wonderful news – and will help me change risky behaviours since I have a huge incentive to stay HIV negative. If I find myself HIV positive – then now is the time to start treatment – so that I *can* live long.
On this World AIDS Day we salute those with the courage to know the truth. The Bible tells us that ‘truth will set you free.’ We know this is true.
We also salute all those who are helping people with HIV. Through our work we know of many unsung heroes who are doing what they can. In the govt. sector we salute the doctors and public health nurses who meet people with HIV and help them with ART and TB treatments.
We salute the name-less volunteers from local churches who go and visit people with HIV in their homes – and who welcome their ‘Positive Friends’ into their homes too. We salute all those who quietly help financially when widows struggle to pay room-rents, and who bring food for people with HIV who are destitute.
We salute our Positive Friends themselves. What a thrill it is for us at Jeevan Sahara to hear each month the stories that People living with HIV/AIDS tell during the support group meeting. We salute ladies like Kavita who are bold and telling their tale to others. We are so proud that tomorrow – during Mumbai AIDS Sunday 7 of our HIV Positive Friends will be telling their stories in different churches – and challenging people to love and care as God does.
Today is an ordinary day. Full of extra-ordinary people. We salute you all and are so privileged to work together with you!
Some know but are trying to avoid addressing it.