Friday, 29 November 2013

Looking for an answer…

On the last day of the European HIV Testing Week, someone very dear to me who is also an amazing journalist and a remarkable human being, asked me to post this…

It is just another normal working day, trying to give a voice to those who have something to say about things and problems that bother humanity, or at least, my modest little surrounding humanity

I go towards the Infectious Clinic, the only clinic that can perform HIV tests The only place where people may find out whether they carry the deadly virus or not.

The doctor is already waiting for me, to talk about AIDS and patients suffering from AIDS. The way he puts it, is just another disease, contagious, hazardous, deadly, but human They all need to be treated with respect and affection, despite the poison in their blood.

While he tells stories about people having died without even knowing they died because of AIDS, I feel surprised at the low level of self-awareness, and when he mentions the death of a seven years old girl who remained undiagnosed until her death, this low level of self-awareness scares me It could happen to anyone, at any moment, in any circumstance, because of a careless action, because of a stupid addiction, because of ignorance or because the maliciousness of rotten human souls who think that by infecting others, they will get a piece of revenge from the harm that was done to them. It is strange how wicked the human psyche can sometimes be

I wrap it up, after a detailed explanation of the disease, the incubation period of the virus, the first onset of AIDS, chances of life for an infected person, ways of transmitting the virus, data on the national database of people who are infected, breaking it down to female and male subjects, global death toll since 1981

Another moment comes. The moment when you want to show to others how the test is carried out. Nobody is willing to do it. Nobody is willing to show in front of the camera how the procedure is, that short procedure that lasts 10-15 minutes which will decide the future

I take the initiative of taking this test, first asking how it is performed.

The doctor looks at me with surprise. ‘This is not a game’ he might think

Well, it is not a game for me either. He then says ‘I don’t think you must appear in front of the camera. People will not understand it. People will judge you when they see this documentary Be anonymous’ I refuse to take his word for it. ‘If I am not able to show my face while taking this test, when I am calling on others for awareness on this deadly disease, what rights do I have to address them while I back off?’ In a way, I want to feel what a person living in the doubt of HIV feels, I want to show to the audience how easy it is to go through a little puncture with many drops of blood being taken from your finger And so I do But trust me, it is not that easy It is not that easy at all...

The test is just like the pregnancy test. But different from one another, when one is positive, you give life, you bear life, you have reasons for life. When the other one is positive, oh the world tumbles on your feet and everything around you crumbles to pieces and fragments of joyful moments you have had, terrible moments you will have

You have one stripe and you are negativeYou are HIV negative You are marked with life

You have two stripes and you are positive You are HIV positive You are marked with death Perhaps not sudden death, not painful death, not even death until it comes naturally, but you bear the seal of DEATH You may give death to others, those dear to you, those strange to you

And so, while the light of the camera is on my face, and I am pale as always, I feel the shivers in my body, and my skin turns cold, cold to freezing in the quivers of impatience.

I know there is nothing wrong with me. I simply perfectly know it,  but the moment itself is scary, perhaps horrifying... It is the reading of those thin lines in your test that determines the way you are going to see life from now and on

Ten minutes pass, under the camera lights, while it is filming, recording on tape my voice trembling while speaking about the test, while trying to formulate my appeal, while the doctor explains softly what it is, what we are seeing, how the reagents work My ears go deaf for a minute or so, my eyes focus only on one spot the single stripe on my tests both tests There is no second stripe, there is no shadow of doubt about the certainties that I already had This experiment upon myself costed me I now know better how to appreciate the moment, maybe life itself. For a moment there, I was scared It was a long moment from where I sat Now it is gone My heartbeat is backMy breath is back

I take the test from the table, show it to the camera and softly, slowly and calmly I say: ‘That was it. It only takes a few moments to save your life, to save other peoples lives Do the test

I am still silent, but I need to share this