Being a Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc.( PAFPI) volunteer and peer educator, I got to visit different treatment hubs, meet a lot of people working in the HIV and AIDS advocacy and talk to people living with HIV. And talking to my peers and listen to their stories were only some of the perks for being a peer educator. But you may ask why? Simply because not all were given a chance to inspire others and to make them realize that there’s life after HIV. But before I bore you, read on to know my story on how I met my newly diagnosed client.
One early morning, I was in the treatment hub doing my regular visit as a peer educator. It was when I met my client. She was 35 years old and newly diagnosed with HIV. So, I did what I should do, that’s to provide moral support, give her as much information as I can about the virus, and provide counselling if needed. It is pertinent for us to provide the right information since this will help her understand the situation that she was facing.
But frankly, I was hesitant to talk to the lady at first simply because she was hysterically crying out loud. She kept repeating the same question over and over, “Why of all people, why me?” Well, save the melodrama and get on with it, I thought. But I know that we face the dreaded news in different ways because I too was deeply saddened when I first found out. So, I just let her cry and be hysterical until the attending nurse gave me a go signal that it was time for me to talk to her.
When I saw her eyes, I saw the pain and her lips uttered the same question that probably haunted many of us before, “What will become of my life now that I’m HIV positive?” I have a ready answer to her question since we were trained to respond to such. But instead of giving her my canned answers, giving her a pat in the back, or a hug, I let her talk and cry as much as possible. I know that it will help her unburden her heart and release the emotion that she’s going through that moment.
“What about my dreams?” She added,but after she calmed down, I saw my chance to talk. I made her understand that it was hard for her to accept her status now and that it’s really indeed painful. But I told her that she will eventually accept it and live on with her life. I anticipated that my words will face skepticism or disbelief since many other clients will not believe you right away. And I was right because she told me that I will never understand how she feels. Oh yes, I do. I went through the same, and even though we felt different degrees of emotional pain, it was still painful.
I told her all things that she needed to know and I answered her many many questions. And fortunately, she calmed down after a couple of hours, which made me realize that fear of not knowing what will become of your life after HIV is what makes it hard for us to accept our status and get on with life.
I am thankful that I was part of PAFPI’s pool of volunteers, and I am fortunate to work side by side with people who are willing to help a person living with HIV AIDS.