“I found out I had HIV after I had my 3rd child. My newborn and I were always sick. I went to the doctor who did my check-ups during pregnancy, the doctor advised me to get tested. A week later, I got a call asking me to come into the hospital. I’d tested positive for HIV. My daughter too. My husband refused to get tested for the longest time but when he finally did, he tested positive as well. It was devastating.

Scared & in despair, I started drinking to cope. My husband & I kept our HIV status a secret. For over 5 years, no one knew. But even then, I struggled. People around us would joke about HIV and AIDS, it got uncomfortable. Casual jokes about HIV & promiscuous people getting what they deserved hurt me. After all my little baby, through no fault, had it. It was only for my kids that I eventually stopped drinking. I went to rehab to get better & take care of my kids. I’ve had another baby since then. She is HIV-negative thanks to proper prenatal care & medical facilities that ensured the virus didn’t transfer to her.

However, the challenges we face are many. My husband needed an operation once. Upon learning his HIV status, his operation was pushed towards the end of the day. The hospital didn’t want HIV to spread to other patients. While I do understand it’s a precaution, it felt like discrimination. My daughter needs a tonsillectomy & still hasn’t gotten it for the same reason. Perhaps having a separate facility for HIV-positive patients would help. It was during this same time that a family member first learnt our secret. My husband’s brother overheard, and the news travelled before we could do anything. Our kids are now discriminated within the family. They are not allowed to touch the utensils or play with the other kids.

But people with HIV should not be scared. We are taking medication & physically healthy. Although it’s hard to get by in Thimphu & make enough for 4 kids, we are both working and making a decent living. Our daughter knows & understands what having HIV means, thanks to education by organisations like Lhaksam. We’re very grateful for any help we get & hopeful that someday I won’t be ashamed of my HIV status anymore.”

#HumansOfThimphu #worldAIDSday

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