Welcome to the Lhak-Sam

Chapter one: Positive voices
Part VIII: Do negative people live longer?

Do negative people live longer?

When 19 year old Tshering Choden carried her baby to the hospital, her landlady accompanied her. The baby was crying and Tshering, despite trying hard, was unable to pacify the baby. The landlady insisted that she should breastfeed the baby. Tshering being HIV positive could not feed the baby and therefore she made up an excuse that she had forgotten to bring the baby food. The excuse could not satisfy the landlady, who sarcastically told Tshering that she must be HIV positive and that is the reason why she was not feeding her own baby.

Young Tshering, who was infected with HIV but did not know much about it, felt humiliated and embarrassed, yet she denied and retorted, “I am not HIV positive. Had I been infected with HIV I would have died a long time back.”

Now 25, Tshering asks a pertinent question: “Do negative people live longer and better as compared to people who are positive?”

She answers her own question, “With Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) it is possible for an HIV positive person to prolong his/her life besides improving its quality.” Tshering’s wisdom and understanding can amaze anyone, especially when a person comes to know that she has never been to school and she has never worked outside home either.

Tshering was tested positive when she was carrying her second child. The news scared her of the discrimination that she and her child would have to face. She was sad and embarrassed but she was too young and ignorant to ask any questions from the counsellor. The only concern, which she could voice, was the safety of her child. “The nurse in the hospital tried to assure me that there were medicines that reduce the chances of mothers transmitting infection to their babies. But I did not believe her. The real counselling was done by my husband and the rest of the family members, who were very supportive and understanding.”

Strengthened and encouraged by her family’s support, she decided to share her status with people and came before the media in 2011. “I wanted to give a strong message to people to encourage them to go for voluntary testing.”

Now Tshering goes for advocacy with Lhak-Sam members and emphasises that all pregnant women should go for check-ups in order to avoid transmitting the infection to their babies.

Chapter 1 stories
The joke .. | Her past made .. | Wish there .. | For people I .. | Ignorance is bliss | Positive makes.. | The jail rock |
Chapter 2 | Chapter 3