Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Surrounded but isolated

This map shows the world according to HIV prevalence. It was presented by the UK Telegraph with this caption:

HIV prevalence
The size of each territory shows the number of people aged 15 to 49 with HIV. The highest prevalence exists in Swaziland, where 38 per cent of 15 to 49-year-olds carry the virus. More than a fifth of people in Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, within this age range, carry HIV.

So this is something quite ironic. I am surrounded by HIV every single day. On any given day I speak to at least three to 20 people infected and affected by HIV. I counsel them, I offer support, I can give hope and sometimes provide that feeling of not-being-alone-in-this.

Yet somehow I feel like I am. Virtually no one I work with knows about my husband's status/ my magnetic situation. And to date I have never met a single person who is 'in my situation'. Sure, I've counselled negative parents of positive children, and even a few couples where one partner is infected and the other is not. However, working at South African government hospitals, the issues that concern my clients are usually very fundamental at the time they see me. Will I survive? How can I afford to bring my child/myself to the clinic every month? I do not even have enough food to fill my stomach, how on Earth can I get 'healthy' food? We need to have more children, what do I do?

So far I have not found any support groups in Johannesburg or even South Africa that cater for people in 'my situation'. How can this be? I live in the country with one of the biggest HIV prevalences in the world and there are NO groups for negative spouses? No support groups for people on medical aid?

I sometimes feel that since not only do I have a roof over my head, good health care for myself and my partner, as well more than just the bare necessities, I do not qualify to feel pain, to be sad and angry and qualify for some blerry support! This is clearly something I need to get over. I just wish I would find someone to bounce this stuff off. Anyone out there who feels the same?


  1. I've been pos for 6 years and my husband is negative. We live just outside Salt Lake City Utah and would be happy to meet with you if your travels take you this way.

  2. That would be really nice. I'll be in the US in June/July 2010, so I will make a plan to come via Salt Lake City. Thanks for being in touch!