By Patrick Dixon
Is it Really Worse Than Cancer?
Imagine that you go the doctor because you have been feeling very run down and tired for the last few weeks. He sends you to the clinic where they do one or two tests. Before you know what is happening they have rushed you up to the ward. They do some more tests and everyone runs around looking very worried.
Then the doctor comes in and tells you that you are seriously ill and you will need to have a big operation tomorrow. He says you will be in for at least a week. Two days later you have a very rare form of cancer. It is very advanced and the outlook is terrible.
Your whole world has fallen apart in an instant: all your hopes and dreams for the future have been dashed. It cannot really be true. It is hard to take in: your plans for training, a job, a home of your own, maybe to get married and have children have been crushed.
Your parents are beside each other with worry and grief. What kind of a world is it where children die before their parents? It is like whole natural order has been turned upside down.
But AIDS can seem worse than any of this. What would you do if you went to give blood and a few days later a letter came asking you to re-attend, and when you got back a man there tell you that your blood has been tested positive for HIV?
Sometimes I asked a class at school this same question and many people tell me that they would commit suicide. They could not face the thought of everyone wondering how they had got it. How could they tell Dad? Could they tell him about using drugs, or having been with many women, or being gay and having sex with lots of other boys and men?
Many people do feel like committing suicide and some actually do, just after finding out about AIDS or an early infection, which is why so much care and support is needed after someone has been told. A friend of mine who is a doctor was shocked one day to wake up in the morning and find that someone had gassed himself with the exhaust. He had discharged himself against advice from the AIDS ward just a few hours previously. He could not face the thought of life with AIDS.
Do not stigmatize or judge HIV positive people, they need your care more. They can live their normal life and fulfill their destiny. Support an AIDS patient today.