What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear a health worker (nurse, sister or doctor) dying of AIDS?
Personally for me HIV/AIDS in PNG has as a personal touch. One of my friends whom we did year 11 and 12 together in the same school was diagonsed with HIV. I could not belive that he had AIDS. Later I found out his wife was also infected. The thing is I really admired him because he accepted it and lived a normal life. I last talked to him and his wife in 2003.
Then today I heard that another friend and a fellow health worker has died of AIDS. She was very young, very pretty and had a bright future. The last time I saw her she was loosing weight and asked if she was sick or something but she just said she was taking one of those loose weight drinks. I guess she did not want me know.
You see, the thing is HIV does not recognise nor care about your status, education level or social standing.
Apart from the diagnosis of AIDS and knowing their fate, HIV/AIDS victims are stigmatised in PNG. I think the mental anguish of being diagnosed with HIV is in itself a slow painful death. They say the there are only two things in life that have a 100% probablity of happening which you can not avoid – tax and death.
I know I will too will die one day. The difference between my two friends and me is that they have died much sooner than expected. That is the thing which makes me so angry when I think of HIV/AIDS in PNG. I do not blame them nor condemn or judge them. Only God will be the judge. For me, I will miss a dear friend.
Sometimes I think people generally think and have this mentality that “AIDS won`t affect me”. “Em i no nap kamap lon me, em ol ya.” That I think is the danger! That apparent lack of danger may infact cause many to loose their guard.