Seeing beyond the crooked finger
In a previous post, I wrote about my mother dealing with Multiple System Atrophy, a degenerative condition that ultimately took her life late last month.
A degenerative condition, whether its MSA, cancer or any other terminal disease, is a heartbreaking condition to live with, whether its from the perspective of a caregiver, or the patient.
Without the support of friends, family and caregivers, a patient’s journey will be made that much tougher to withstand. I’d like to think that my mother’s condition and regression through her illness was made slightly easier to bear, surrounded by her beloved siblings, children and grandchildren.
I myself am living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Its a chronic disease that at present has no cure, but is manageable with medication. I talk freely about it with friends who ask, especially when they see my slightly deformed index finger, like so.
Living with HIV
This is not the case for those with HIV. Many around us have our own moral judgements, societal prejudices and the weirdest paranoia that HIV is highly communicable. People with HIV have long been portrayed as an irresponsible bunch, deserving of it due to their lifestyles. Does a person with cancer or diabetes deserve it because he or she didn’t take optimum care of their health?
Imagine that you’re HIV positive, and having to keep your condition, fears, concerns and insecurities deeply to yourself. It is arduous enough a journey to live and fight through any terminal disease, let’s not make it any more difficult.
I recently came across this video, in which Avin Tan, a young Singaporean came out public with his HIV status. He’s the 2nd Singaporean to boldly step forward to give a face to HIV since Paddy Chew in 1998.
I applaud his courage in coming out and sharing his story, fears and hopes.
I hope there will be more like him, and I hope that we can accept him as a fellow Singaporean in need of support, and show him that we can look beyond the disease and see him for the friend, brother, son and person that he is.
Below is a video of him speaking at the 8th Singapore AIDS Conference this year. Let’s help get discrimination of HIV, and ultimately this and many other diseases to zero.
With Education, Empathy and by being an Example.