When I was on clinic duty 2 weeks ago, I met a couple – the husband, Roslan, on crutches, had been confirmed HIV+ and whose CD4 was already very low; and the wife, Shimah, yet to be tested.
While Roslan was rather calm and had somewhat accepted the fact that he has to live with HIV for the rest of his life, Shimah on the other hand, looked rather depressed. She was quiet most of the time when I spoke to Roslan asking about the wellbeing of the family. When I finally turned to Shimah to ask if she had been tested, she was on the verge of breaking down.
With tears flowing, she kept asking “Kenapa saya?” Although she had not been tested yet, she was convinced that she was surely already infected. I kept telling her that she was not necessarily infected and we wouldn’t know for sure until blood tests are done. But at the same time, I also had to prepare her in case she was indeed infected. I did tell her to call me anytime in case she needed to talk to someone about it.
Yesterday I was on clinic duty again. Since there weren’t any cases referred, I decided to call Shimah to find out how she was doing. This time her tone of voice sounded happier. The test done showed that she was negative, alhamdulillah. She told me how relieved she was when the news was conveyed to her. She also told me how hard she prayed after the last time we met. She definitely talked a whole lot more this time. I just reminded her to to take the necessary precautions to avoid transmission of the virus from her husband to herself.
Then this morning I received a text message from her, telling me she was scared because her husband’s blood stains were on the bed sheet and although she had soaked the bed sheet in hot water, she didn’t dare touch the bed sheet in case the virus was still there.
I suppose when she said earlier that she fully understood how the virus spreads, she didn’t really understand… but I guess being in her condition, and not well educated, I can understand her concerns. Just give her some time to fully understand everything.