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Saturday 24 December 2005
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Perceptions and deceptions

Dear Diary

I had that dream again last night. The one about how my sister looked not long before she died.

My pillow was soaked when I woke up and this time it wasn't from the night-sweats. Those have stopped since I started the antiretroviral drug therapy three months ago.

The dream, however, was vivid enough to keep the tears flowing for the better part of an hour.

My doctor warned me of nightmares as a result of the Stocrin, but I never imagined these dreams would be real enough to force me to confront a question that had been nagging at me since I first saw my sister's emaciated body in that small bed at home.

The tears couldn't come when I told her how much I'd miss her when she was gone. And I had to be strong for my mother and my two little nieces at the grave side.

But I realise now that the reason I had such difficulty dealing with my emotions, was because my sister fitted the picture of someone on the verge of an AIDS-related death.

I had, after all, seen enough pictures of AIDS patients near death to wonder whether there was in fact more to her illness than I was being told.

The certificate said the cause of death was cervical cancer that had spread to the kidneys and spine. This was completely acceptable by social standards, and good enough to keep tongues from wagging.

I'll probably never know the truth about Dawn, despite the disclosure of my own HIV status to my family and friends.

But in light of the latest research on the high number of women affected by HIV/AIDS around the world, Dawn was a perfect candidate for HIV infection. She was unemployed and dependant on a man, who physically abused her and openly took multiple sex partners.

She eventually divorced her husband, but it was too late, and her secret was buried along with her in the little community where we were born and raised.

Buried like all the other people supposedly from asthma, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

But who am I to be so suspicious? Do those horrible pictures in the newspaper really give me the right to suspect AIDS?

I know now that they do not, because I am the picture of what many people would call "perfect health".

What's frightening, though, is that many of those same people are still engaging in unprotected sex based on physical appearances.

The old adage that "appearances can be deceiving" really does hold more truth than many of us are willing to admit, and secrets will remain just that. Secret.

But the reality that people are still reluctant to talk about a virus that is responsible for claiming more lives than any other disease is no secret.

Forever Positive

Hayden Horner


Previous Entry :: All Diary Entries :: Next Entry
Diary Entries
Beyond the Borders of HIV/AIDS Treatment Strategies
HIV/AIDS Feminisation: A new wine in an old bottle
Antiretrovirals - The Wind Beneath My Wings
The Mis-education of HIV/AIDS Clinicians
HIV Prevention 101: Ignoring the Church's views on condoms
Stigma and HIV/AIDS: lethal bedfellows
In remembrance of our women and children
Maids, madams and the "terrible thing"
Internet love and inter-related HIV-prejudice
Previously eyes-wide-shut on HIV and religion
Love, lies and disclosure
Black pot and blacker kettle
Things better left unsaid on the bus
Food for thought while waiting to die
Test results not all good
Diary speaks back
The truth about disclosure
Dangerous myths and damaged angels

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