Welcome to the Lhak-Sam

Chapter one: Positive voices
Part V: Ignorance is bliss

Ignorance is bliss

What Pema brought along with him to the city was hope for future and a girl still in her early teens, Sonam Yangden, who had looked after Pema in the village. Sonam knew of Pema's positive status and had no problems with that. "I didn't know that there was any danger in having HIV infection."

But Pema was aware of the dangers and wanted to protect Sonam. They always had safe sex. On one of the occasions, the condom tore. Pema frantically called the health officer who asked him to get Sonam's blood tested after three months. Sonam tested positive but the news had no effect on Sonam, who had no idea what HIV was.

Life resumed but destiny had some other plans for the couple. The condom mishap was repeated and Sonam became pregnant. "This got me a bit worried. I did not want my child to have any problems. But I didn't know what to ask the doctor so I left everything to Pema and let him decide."

Sonam was given medicines, which restrict mother to child transmission by 90 per cent. The child has undergone two tests so far and has tested negative. Both Sonam and Pema revealed their status before the media in December 2011. Today they are engaged in active advocacy programmes. Pema, who is fond of cycling, pedals at least five kilometres every day. "It helps me reach more and more people and is good for my health as well. Besides, the treatment has become so good that it helps us live normal lives," says Pema.

A bold and carefree girl, Sonam is 21 year old today and she feels that all HIV positive people should come out and get involved in advocacy.

"Before revealing my status to the media, I was a bit concerned about how people would take the news. But then I thought it would inspire others to go for voluntary testing - especially pregnant women - to save their unborn babies from getting the infection. Also, this is the only way we can stop discrimination."

Chapter 1 stories
The joke .. | Her past made .. | Wish there .. | For people I .. | Positive makes.. | The jail rock | Do negative pe..
Chapter 2 | Chapter 3