The 27-year-old, a former drug addict and prisoner who married last year but has not told his wife or family about his condition, works as a counselor to fellow sufferers at Baliâ€™s Yayasan Matahati, an AIDS group funded by AusAid, in the Batubulan area of Gianyar regency. He shared his day with The Bali Timesâ€™ Arga Sagitarini.
My day begins at 6am, and straight away I get ready for work. I spend most of the day out of the office, going around and searching for other (suspected) ODHAs and trying to convince them to take a HIV test. If they know they are positive, theyâ€™ll be more careful about preventing transmission of the virus.
As for myself, I found out I was HIV positive after being tested while I was in hospital in 2003 with tuberculosis. I only did the test after some counselors there convinced me to do it, but when I got the results I was frustrated because I didnâ€™t know what to do, what was going to happen.
But fortunately, the counselors were always with me and told me I had to live as normal a life as possible, and to work at Yayasan Matahati and share my experiences with others and tell them that the best way to avoid AIDS is to live a healthy life.
After being out all day, I get back home around 5pm â€“ home to my lovely wife. She doesnâ€™t know I have HIV, nor do my family. Iâ€™m not ready to tell them yet. Iâ€™m always careful not to infect my wife when weâ€™re intimate and always use a condom.
I caught HIV when I used a hypodermic needle when I was taking drugs three years ago. Iâ€™d been doing drugs for 10 years, ever since I was in high school. Eventually I was arrested by the police and jailed for one and a half years. Behind bars, I vowed to become a better person, and told myself that even though I have the HIV virus in my body, I could still lead a normal life. Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve been trying to do.
Before I became infected, I was scared of AIDS, but Iâ€™ve learned itâ€™s not the death sentence people used to think it was. That doesnâ€™t mean there isnâ€™t discrimination in society, though â€“ AIDS still has a bad image and many ODHAs suffer discrimination here.
I do some exercises in the evening to keep healthy; my doctor suggested I do them. Usually I do some jogging and pushups. Around 8:30 we have dinner, and I like to eat healthily â€“ food that has a high nutritional value.
My immune system is actually in good shape, and up to now I havenâ€™t required antiretroviral drugs. I want to stay healthy because once you start taking those drugs, you have to continue with them for the rest of your life.
One day I hope a drug will become available that will wipe out HIV. I want to be free from it, and to have a healthy life with a lot of children.Filed under: One Day