Showing posts with label HIV AIDS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HIV AIDS. Show all posts

29 November 2011

Social Stigma- Can we afford one more?

Every once in a long while there comes a disease that changes the fate of millions and test the rest of mankind. The last such disease was leprosy that infected the human civilization for over 4000 years. This disease divided human race into two, human and leper. The leprosy stigma was so strong that lepers were forced segregated and quarantined, deprived of basic rights and warmth. In medieval times sufferers were worn leper bells, like cowbells, to signal their presence. Even in recent times, after the disease became treatable, lepers suffered equally strong stigma- termination from jobs, ban from public places, deprivation of healthcare and worse of all their families giving up on them.
Leper Bell! (Picture:: Wikipedia)
Bhutan has its own history of leprosy; stigma drove sufferers into isolation into the remote caves to wait for their ends. One such recorded history is that of Gelong Ma Pema's. Even today, after all the education, medical breakthrough, and understanding nobody wants to be associated with a leper; the stigma finds it hard to leave the society that has it rooted deep within its .
The bacterial disease is finally gone, or as good as gone but a virus has come and it's given a very technical name- HIV AIDS. Like I said, every once in a long while comes a disease that changes the fate of millions and test the rest of mankind- while leprosy surely changed the fate of millions but the rest of mankind failed the test. Now the time has come for another test, AIDS has changed the fate of millions but will the rest of us repeat the same mistake of depriving the sufferers of our love and compassion? Are we going to force segregate and isolate them in social caves? Are we going to wear them virtual cowbells?
Let us realize that the disease hasn't come for nothing, it's god's way of testing mankind of our virtues. If we are going to repeat what we have done to lepers with AIDS patients God may never forgive us. It's not about who sees the death first, many people die each day while infected people are living for years, but it's about the emotional support they need each moment of their lives fighting the disease and we owe them that much. Let's not wait for 4000 more years to realize that they are our family.

In two days we are going to see four HIV positives Bhutanese on National TV to share their experiences. We are all waiting with mixed feelings but one thing we must remember is they are sick of hiding and fighting alone. They are counting on us to help them fight the disease stronger and freely.