(This interview is taken with the consent of the patient. Name of the patient is kept anonymous on his request)
Q: Will you tell us what happened to you?
A: I am a soldier posted in Kashmir. One year ago I was diagnosed with TB. I started medication and completed the course. Then I was posted to Kashmir near border. After few days I fell ill and reported to CMH Muzafarabad. They gave me some medications and told me that it is due to weather and high altitude. I returned to my post but my condition deteriorated. I ask from my co for my replacement which came in few days. After that I reported to Military Hospital, Rawalpindi.
Q: What did they do?
A: They admitted me and did several tests for next 2 weeks.
Q: Did they tell you what have?
A: They didn’t know themselves then.
Q: So how did you come to know about your diagnosis?
A: One day a nurse came and wrote put a board above my bed. When I read, HIV positive was written on it
Q: I can see only a red board there nothing written over it.
A: Yes it was removed next day when a senior doctor came and saw it. He asked nurse why she has written this and then told her to put a red board instead.
Q: What was your reaction when you came to know about your diagnosis?
A: I am well educated, I use internet and read books. I know what AIDS is and how it spreads. I waited for doctor to come and confirm this.
Q: So when did you confirmed this?
A: In the evening when a doctor came for round I asked him about my diagnosis. He said one of your tests is positive for HIV.
Q: Did you tell your family?
A: I told my father, who was staying here with me. Rest of My family lives in a village and they are not literate. I have not told them about it yet.
Q: What he told you about your treatment?
A: They told me that drugs which are given for HIV are not available in military pharmacy. They referred me to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Islamabad for the treatment.
Q: And what doctor at PIMS told you?
A: They told me that I am HIV positive which means virus has entered my body. It will be converted to AIDS only when virus will overcome my body. They said that these drugs will prevent virus from multiplying.
Q: So you are hopeful that you will become alright?
A: Yes, doctors at PIMS gave me hope that i will live a healthy and normal life. The doctor told me that we have treated a lot of patients who were so weak that they were brought here on stretcher. Now after treatment they are living an active and healthy life.
Q: Will you tell us how the attitude of hospital staff is?
A: Doctors are very kind and sympathetic. They check me daily. But I am not happy attitude of nursing staff. They don’t come here. I had fever yesterday and they didn’t bother to check my temperature or give me any medicine.
Q: Do you think it is because of your disease?
A: I don’t think so. They do this with everyone.
Q: You are an educated person. You know so much about your disease. Do you know from where you got the HIV infection?
(He rolled up his sleeve and showed tattoo mark)
A: This tattoo is the cause of my illness. I engraved this many years ago. It did just for fun but it gave me this illness.
Q: Can you tell us how people react after they hear about your disease?
A: I have not gone out of hospital yet.
Q: Do think you could have prevented this.
A: Yes I could but you never know when you get sick.
Q: In the end I would like to ask you about your suggestion to improve healthcare system.
I think doctors should be more aware of aids. Instead of doing so many tests, they should diagnose it promptly. Also medicine should be prepared in Pakistan and should be made available in all big hospital.
Thank you for your time and for your cooperation. I wish you a speedy recovery.