It was in the year 1984 in Kenya when I served the National AIDS committee as the Project Chairman.
I had taken interviews with several educated aid patients especially from Nairobi. I trained some of them to speak in public. I took them around to different public places in my vehicle. Most of the people assembled at the public lecture were scared individuals who suffered from HIV or those who took keen interest in sex but feared of aids.
There were people who wanted to know about AIDS in detail and who really wanted to stay as far away as possible from the cruel disease. There were students, teachers, professors and professionals, businessmen, housewives and all sorts of people attending the talks regularly and with real enthusiasm for the subject matter…
I gave a brief talk on AIDS and then introduced the AIDS patient by telling his own example. He would then talk to the audience present about how he got AIDS, how it was recognized, and how he felt after being diagnosed as a victim of AIDS. He would, from his own experiences, advise the public on ways of precaution- once under the chant, the ways to survive, including food control etc.
In the beginning, the speaking victim was a bit shy but after some time he found it easy to talk freely to the audience. He believed himself to be of some benefit to the public by educating them about the killer disease. People were impressed by his talks, as he spoke from his own experience. His talk on AIDS became very attractive and more and more people who were really very scared of AIDS assembled to listen to his talk.
Other than male Aids victims, there were some HIV affected women who also joined my team and spoke freely to the public about their experiences. There were house-wives, unmarried women, widows and even prostitutes in the group.
I encouraged the AIDS victims of the type to be interviewed by the media as their interviews would be useful to thousands of interested people. I also arranged for them to speak on radio and on the special program on Kenya’s T.V. Public Awareness channel in hope that their appearances would help to save many future AIDS victims.
Most of the AIDS victims were unmarried. A few of those who were married were left by their life partners as neither the wife nor the husband were ready to stay with the HIV affected partner. No one would ever choose to marry an AIDS victim unless they were unaware of their disease.
My team consisted of young men and women, most of whom were without their family and living a lonely life. Once known, their relatives would not allow them to stay within the family and their friends would stay away from them. They would never be allowed to work in the offices or other public places due to a perceived threat of AIDS infection.
I enrolled several lonely AIDS victims and engaged them in public lectures, writing for newspapers and magazines; talking freely on radio and on T.V. and special media interviews. That gave them enough income to survive and the others, without such income, were provided special shelters and food by the Government or the NGOS that were in constant touch with me.
The victims of Aids were also being treated in the special clinic and admitted in the special ward under special care. We had also arranged some special rooms in the General Hospital.
Such victims spoke to the public when they were in good health. Occasionally some speakers had to leave the hall whilst speaking as they could not tolerate pain or were suffering from dizziness. I used to go with a couple of extra speakers as I was aware of a potential pain attack during the lectures. Indeed, I used to have special drugs for such lecturers to use as an emergency if the need arise.
I decided to take some of the victims under my care and arranged for them to marry each other. This was a good idea as it would make their lives easier for survival. Staying in one room, they could help each other and could have sexual affairs freely without any fear.
There were 110 men and 89 women in my crew, all of various tribes. I matched nearly 60 good, happy couples from this group. They were happy to become husbands and wives, with an independent and free sex life. Whatever their life line might be, but I was sure they could stay better for the days destined.
Apart from some inevitable ups and downs, it worked for the individuals regardless of their life-span. They lived a fearless and loving life: never thinking of themselves as ignored persons. The couples moved freely about in the town, going to cinema, going for shopping or even loitering in the public gardens. They revived the courage to live and gave them some hope for a good, strong survival.
The number of cases of suicides among such AIDS victims reduced. After all, they had and have a right to live.
As good citizens and as better human beings, we should try our level best to be helpful to them and never despise or hate them. We are not going to have infection by touching them, moving around with them or by sitting with them. We should only take care to stay away from their vessels, their razors, their clothes, drinking water or their food. . The doctors should never use the same tools, needles, gloves or scissors for every one. The aid victims should have their separate wing and separate wardrobes and dresses. Washing area should also be separate.