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Sabtu, 01 Desember 2012

World AIDS Day: Stop Judging, Please!

Imagine a nice housewife got AIDS from her husband who had unsafe sex with prostitute. Imagine an innocent baby, born with the HIV infection transmitted from his mommy. Imagine a kind doctor, trying to dedicate his knowledge and skill for his patients' sake, then accidentally got HIV infection as the reward.
Many years ago, when I was still a medical student, patients with Human Immunodefficiency Virus/ Acquired Immuno Defficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) always astonished me. Some of them were still in their best shapes, continously consuming antiretroviral drugs. Some of them were stranded in bed, trying to fight the virus with any last strength they had.

Everytime I saw some of them, I got one question on my mind: how did they get infected? 

I often guessed the answers, mostly were very assumtive and full of prejudice. 
"Look, he has a lot of tattoos on his body. No wonder he got infected."
"Oh my! Look at those little scars on her wrist! What a junkie."
"She said she got the disease from her boyfriend. Well, that's the risk for doing free sex. Unsafe one."

I didn't even realize, by having such thoughts I had become one of narrow-minded people giving bad stigma on HIV/AIDS patients. I tried to treat them the way I treated other patients without discrimination. Well, except the fact that I had to be careful of nosocomial infections might happening to them (patients with HIV/AIDS had very poor immune system in their bodies). But still, I believed that they must have done something bad in the past; a big mistake that brought them to their horrible fate: being infected.

Until one day I got an accident. I was on duty as a doctor at a private hospital in Bekasi. It was a hectic night at emergency room. Patients kept coming in and out. One of them was an old man, already comma when arrived. He looked a little bit icteric (jaundiced). His family said he had a liver chirrosis history. We did everything we should, but he didn't make it. I announced his time of death. His family, burst in tears, finally took his body home. I was going out of the room when suddenly something tiny--and definitely sharp, hurt my foot.

It was a tiny sharp abocath needle. The nurse used it when we put an intravenous line to the old male patient. Perhaps somebody forgot to clean it up, then it fell down from the bed and hurt me. The wound wasn't painful, but I was so terrified! He had a liver disease. What if he had hepatitis? What if he had HIV?? How the hell would I know what other diseases he probably had??

Oh, God. Please. God, please save me...

Months after that, I had my blood checked. No hepatitis. No HIV. 
A year after, I had myself rechecked. Nada. I was clean!

Alhamdulillah!! I couldn't stop thanking God for it!!!

Then something struck me. What if those AIDS patients got infected that way? Imagine a pretty, nice housewife got AIDS from her husband who had unsafe sex with prostitute. Imagine a cute baby, born with the HIV infection transmitted from his mommy. Imagine a kind doctor, trying to dedicate his knowledge and skill for his patients' sake, then accidentally got HIV infection as the reward.

They were not jerks. They were not big sinners. These good people had done nothing wrong. How could a horrible thing like AIDS happen to nice people like them?

I noticed that I had been judging my HIV/AIDS patients all these years. I was so embarassed of myself for being one of those narrow-minded people who thought HIV was a curse, and the cursed persons should be abandoned. You know, narrow-minded people who said like this: "They deserve getting infected by HIV. It's a proper punishment for their sins!"

I started realizing that many people living with HIV/AIDS still had a strong will to survive. They stopped blaming God for what had happened. They took antiretrovirals and started a more healthy lifestyle, gathered to support each other, accompanied their friends to the hospital for medical check ups, and even held STOP AIDS campaigns to warn healthy people to stay away from lifestyle that might get them HIV infection.

One of the most effective campaign is through cyber world. Spreading leaflets or giving health education concerning HIV/AIDS prevention at certain times and places will only reach a group of people. But think about how many people can read a blog post. By posting one article during the prime time, thousands of readers around the world may reach it in few hours--or minutes. If these readers promote the article through their social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, e-mail an so on, more people can read it, too.

It's good to know that HIV/AIDS communities are aware of how important internet is, as a media to educate society. Some of them made social media accounts, blogs and websites to inform the right facts about AIDS. Therefore, people can avoid infection risks, also no longer set negative stigma upon people living with HIV/AIDS. The idea is to stay away from the virus, not the infected persons.

In facts, I found some of them are very inspiring, though. Even after the darkest day when they first knew they were HIV positive, they could still stand up and lit a torch. Not only to find a way out for themselves, but also to warn people to watch their steps. 

I stopped judging them ever since. 

"How did they got infected?" If I have to ask the question ever again, it will be only due to patient's medical history. Any medical history can be very useful to determine the next therapy. But personally, it isn't important anymore for me to know how they got the virus into their bodies. It isn't my business to dig about their past or personal life. I don't have any rights to judge them just because of their disease. Yes, we have no rights for that whatsoever. 

So stop judging, please!


2 komentar:

  1. dimulailah dari diri sendiri untuk menghargai sesama lalu tularkan kepada orang lain,langkah paling menyenangkan sekaligus menjadi tantangan :)

    1. iya, semoga semakin banyak orang paham tentang HIV/AIDS sehingga tidak lagi sembarangan menghakimi ODHA :)


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