It was the summer of 1999. I clearly remember those two nights. Sleepless and anxious, I just prayed that my son did not have HIV. A day earlier I had tested positive, so did my husband. The lab technician advised that since both of us were HIV positive, we should get our son tested immediately.
I didn’t have courage to face the situation. I was 23, and my son was only two and a half. Questions like “How will my son face society?”, “What will his life be like?”, and “Will he be able to live life with this reality?” kept me awake. My husband asked me whether I was ready to get my son tested. Nervous and afraid inside, I said a determined, “Yes.” I knew this was the only way to overcome fear.
At 10am we were at the lab. With tears rolling down, I signed the consent form. Soon the blood sample was taken, and the technician asked us to collect the report in two days. Those two days seemed unbearably long. While my husband resumed work, I was not able to sit at home peacefully even for a moment, let alone eat and sleep.
Finally, the two days were over. I rushed to the lab. Thankfully, the report was negative.
My son had to undergo the test again after six months, then after a year and later after five years. He tested negative at all intervals. It was a big relief! He’s 18 now and living a healthy life.
Now, working in the field under the Global Fund-supported Vihaan programme, I meet many anxious parents, couples and teenagers who are unsure about their HIV status but afraid to get tested. It reminds me of my story, and through my example, I motivate them to get tested immediately. Delay is of no use. Early testing is crucial for managing HIV. Even if you test positive, a treatment plan can help you live a healthy and long life.
The author of this post, Mona Balani, is Programme Officer: Vihaan at India HIV/AIDS Alliance in New Delhi.
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