During one of my holiday visits, Dave’s health started to deteriorate; he became weak and was always coughing so much that he even strained to breathe. During this time, we were told not to be near him and when we were seen around him we were punished. I couldn’t understand why – Dave was our hero, our leader, our best friend. We only wanted to be in his company. Dave died a painful death and even though it didn’t mean much to many people, it was everything to us, his friends. Fun was no more, only memories of it.
To date, there is not one person who can convince me that it is the AIDS virus that killed Dave. Dave died as a result of the treatment he was subjected to by the people who were responsible for taking care of him – the society. If only we would all have shown real love to him, Dave would have lived long enough to see Brazil lift another World Cup. Rivaldo, his favorite player, was in the 2002 squad. What a joy that would have been for him.
We need not stigmatise our own people living with HIV: we are part of them, they are part of us and we can never live apart. Some are born with the virus, some cannot escape its clutches, and the rest only need to make one misguided choice and we could also be infected. Though Dave was infected with HIV, I have been affected by it up to today as I have lost one of my best friends. We all die eventually and it doesn’t matter whether you are HIV positive or not. We all have dreams to achieve, we all want to reach our full potential, we all need to be appreciated as we are and we need to care for people living with HIV because it is in our human nature to care for each other. We can do it. We have the power to do so. It is within our reach.
Dedicated to my friends and our people living with HIV & AIDS.