I happened to listen to an AIDS patient at a training program for teachers conducted by YMCA last week. He was a young man, thirty years old, and, getting over his own agony of being diagnosed as a victim of a dreaded disease, had come forward to warn others about the prevalence of the disease in our society. Having heard that we were teachers dealing with teenagers he had agreed to share his experience and expressed hope that the students whom we dealt with would be counseled by us and they would in turn spread the message among their peer group.
This was not the first time that we had attended a program on AIDS awareness nor were we ignorant about the epidemic levels it is soon expected to reach. What impressed me was the positive attitude of the young man. He admitted to have had a physical relationship with his girl friend in Mumbai and wasn’t too sure about her loyalty to him. He was initially upset and angry with her for being the cause of his anguish but later took it upon himself to ring up and warn her about the possibility of her being a carrier of the undetected virus and to ask her to get herself tested. He also asked his brother now in Mumbai to be careful citing his own example.
It is not very easy to talk to one’s grown up children about the common causes of HIV infection. We tend to imagine that this is someone else’s problem and our sympathies are with the victims. ‘But AIDS in my own family?? Oh! No!! Impossible’. I wish it were impossible. Alas! It is not. It is time for responsible citizens of India to take it upon them to educate the youngsters of today on the circumstances that lead to HIV infection and offer counsel without being judgmental.
The young man mentioned above was well informed about the disease and yet fell victim to it. He was in no way a ‘high risk’ candidate.But he was not spared. We have so many others like him who are National Treasures. Can we afford to let them waste their lives? More and more of our youngsters are leaving home and settling down in unknown places for their studies or career. They are an emotionally vulnerable group and easy targets. All victims may not be positive thinkers. Some may become sadistic and spiteful. Let us make it our responsibility to do our bit to spread awareness among our children. 1st December is WORLD AIDS DAY. Why don’t we all join hands for a good cause?