An english translation of my latest post: “Om at leve med en hiv-smittet“.
In the spring of 1985 Thomas came into the world. A tiny bundle of joy, born to a Zambian mother and a Danish father. He came from love. A love that later would prove to be life threatening. Thomas was born HIV positive. A disease that only a decade later would kill both of his parents. Just like so many who succumbed to AIDS around the world.
For many years doctors had no idea what to do about this dangerous epidemic. A virus that destroyed the immune system of its victims. The sick were unable to recover from ordinary illnesses like the flu or pneumonia. So many people died. Fear based HIV campaigns permeated the news media and scare tactics were unrelenting.
Then, in 1996 antiretrovirals (ARV) were discovered. These extremely effective drugs are still being used to this day. ARV therapy (ART) does not cure HIV, but it allows an infected person to live a normal life.
Thomas thrived, despite his illness, and he grew up. Something no one had dared believe he would. But he did. And then he met me. Me, now the mother of his two children.
In the beginning, when we first began dating, we were often met with “But he is HIV positive!! Aren’t you frightened?” My answer was always; no, I’m not. And I’ve never been frightened.
Since we now know how to effectively treat the disease, HIV does not scare me. The viral load in an ARV treated person’s blood is so little that in many cases it is considered undetectable. Basically non-existent. And our family is living proof of this. Thomas and I now have two children that have been conceived naturally.
Nobody in our family thinks about Thomas’ HIV status, because it has no impact on our lives. Our only reminder is the daily medication Thomas has to take so that he can remain healthy. None of us are scared, none of us feel inhibited in any way. We live our day to day lives just like everyone else.
For me, the worst part about HIV is the stigma surrounding the disease. A stigma still attached to the limited knowledge we had of HIV decades ago.
Please, friends, I ask you to join the fight against HIV stigma. The world is not the same as it was in the mid 1980s, where so many lives were taken by AIDS. With proper treatment HIV is no longer dangerous.
Kisses from Cana
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The text was kindly translated by Charlotte Ernst.