Positive people

Doing their part

Wangda Dorji made history yesterday morning. He revealed that he is HIV positive. And by doing so, he became the first Bhutanese person to publically disclose that he is inflicted with HIV. He made his announcement and shared his painful story with the guests who had gathered to commemorate World AIDS Day.

Later, in the evening, four more people joined Wangda Dorji. Tandin Wangchuk, Pema Dorji, Sithal Chhetri and Tshering Choden, Wangda’s wife, also revealed that they have HIV. They, along with Wangda, who is the executive director of “Lhaksam”, a nonprofit support group for HIV patients, shared their personal stories on live national TV.

They told us about the torment they felt when they found out that they were infected with HIV. They told us about the agony they had to overcome knowing that they had infected others. And they told us about the suffering they have to endure due to the stigma of HIV/AIDS and widespread social discrimination.

They also told us that they had decided to come out in the open to ease the suffering of other HIV patients, and to educate the rest of us on the realities of HIV/AIDS.

The five of them are extraordinary people. They are brave beyond measure. They have suffered more than most of us ever will. And now, by making their identities and their stories publicly known, they risk exposing themselves to even more prejudices and discrimination.

But their courage has already boosted the fight against HIV/AIDS. They have given the disease a human face – a face that tells us that HIV is not a death sentence; a face that assures us that HIV patients are regular people who live full and productive lives; a face that implores us not to needlessly discriminate against those who have HIV.

They’ve done their part. Five positive people have come out in the open and, just like that, they have demystified HIV/AIDS.

The question now is, will we do our part? Will we learn about the disease? Will we join the fight against it? But most of all, will we treat the five of them, and others like them, as normal human beings?

Photo credit: Kuensel


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  1. I applaud these people for their brave and courageous decision. HIV and AIDS is no different than any other diseases. In fact, TB is more dangerous and contagious than HIV.

    I think WHO and governments around the world should take the responsibility for these discrimination. They are the ones who demonized people with HIV and AIDS, they made it look scary, so it is high time they undo the damage they caused. Even in Bhutan they use to play songs like Kak thab mey bey Nezhi AIDS, all the time on BBS. So the governments and Health agency created the monster.

  2. Yes!! They have done their little bit and it is for us to keeping burning the lamp of hope for those who have been and is suffering from this socially constructed disease for the HIV/AIDS. Lets join our hands and uphold the humanity.

  3. I really appreciate them for coming out in public.Even though i haven’t seen their live speeches i have read the news that they have provided in different sites.

    The one from Bhutan today,its sad to know that the health officials are also discriminating them.(pema told in Bhutan today).they should put their shoes in others and then feel the pain.

    HIV/AIDS is a disease same like other disease like diabetes,since the perception of people taking it in the wrong sense,it should not be done.
    We are human being of very short life,discriminating the people is the sin in the way of Buddhist philosophy.only the thinking of our cruel human mind makes people to hate and discriminate.

    Pema also stated in Bhutan today that he need a house to be provided in changji,i think government should look into such thing.

  4. what’s done can’t be undone.. i empathize with them on their situation but admire their courage in coming forward..it is my silent prayer that having now given a face to hiv/aids in bhutan, people realize it is similar to other chronic diseases like diabetes & cancer..& with realization that people support these individuals & do not subject them to further discrimination, including their children & family members..
    for my part, i’m not sure how i could help but please pass on my contact info to lhaksam & i will help as best as i can..meanwhile, to these brave folks, please keep strong -in mind & body..

  5. I would like to thank Mr Wangda Dorji for taking such a courageous movement to appear in the eyes of the public.
    As we are not in their shoes we won’t realize how much they had suffer till date. But now as they had revealed their identities, they might had felt relief.
    Hope that our government will take good of care of them throughout their life. ” We can’t predict that person suffering from HIV/AIDS will die ahead of us”. It all depends on the Fate and Destiny…
    My last message to all the HIV/AIDS positive patient. Be strong and Happy in this life. We are not here for permanent,we will also follow the door of Death.

  6. Chokyi Nima says

    Yes sir if i come across them i will give them a hug

  7. to those five courageous men i would like to extend mi heartiest appreciation and thanks.
    i realized that the discrimination and stigmatization against those HIV and AIDS patients are just that people suffer from melapropism with other diseases like diabetes and other diseases .
    thanks to those five courageous men for addressing and redressing the problems associated with aids and hiv in Bhutan.

  8. yeah, they are courageous five and i have my appreciation and admiration for being so strong. Yeah, it is high time, we treat HIV like any other diseases and get out of box…

  9. Great… By coming out in open, the sufferers have shown their faith in the society and now it is our duty to extend our hands of friendship and concern to them.

  10. Somebody once quoted…”its better to light a candle than to curse a darkness”. So in line with that, five brave people of this GNH land has lighted the ignorance of HIV/AIDS by revealing their identity. Now its our roles to uplift the spirit of those people by enacting certain laws to protect the rights of the revealed positive people and rendering much support as possible la. May god bless u all for your boldness and a new initiatives………..

  11. Bravo guys !! there’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. We are all God’s chosen people and He will care for you forever.

    Bhutanese people – please help these special people, they need you urgently.

    Remember people with disabilities are like butterflies with a broken wing. They are just as beautiful as all others, but they need help to spread their wings”

    You gotta take the good with the bad.Smile with the sad.Love what you’ve got and remember what you had. Learn to forgive but never forget. Learn from mistakes but never regret.People change and things go wrong. Just remember…. Life goes on……

  12. My only worry is will these people be same as they were behind the screen for so long? Temporary media glare nearly as celebrities and all the encouragement from various quarters, politically correct statements, if continued in practice and from close quarters might help. It wasn’t anything better than some gimmicks we get to see pretty often and then forgotten!

  13. I can fell that Cancers and other Non communicable Disease are more dangerous than HIV-Aids.

    HIV could be communicable disease but takes life slowly.

    Remember cancers and other disease takes our life in short period.

    So Other disease are also no difference than HIV.

  14. maymay haylay haylay says

    We are all with you! Be happy and keep strong!. And I would also suggest to Lhaksam that they could find ways to stop spreading it to others through awareness among the group… Those who knew they are infected, please help others to avoid it. Those who don’t know please test and live longer…..

  15. Wangda not only made history but he also became a living proof that people infected with HIV are just like any of us.

    By creating “Lhaksam,” he not only helps other HIV patients but also is giving us an opportunity to help others and become better human beings.

    It was embarrassing watching the program with my family. I just couldn’t control tears rushing down my face as I listened to their heartbreaking stories. It was a powerful reminder of my own mortality. HIV infected or not, one day, we’ll all be gone.
    When they first found out about the infection, they all felt like the end of the world. HIV was the demon that we had all been taught to hate and fear, and suddenly this monster was inside them. Thereafter they had to walk a long, hard road littered with guilt, depression, and self-destructive behavior.

    But 10-15 years later their lives clearly aren’t “over.” They have great friends and family, and support and jobs from both government and private individuals.

    Pema’s story was most moving. His first wife and her family made his life more miserable but the fact that, in spite of his HIV infection, his present wife took care of him and married him is amazing. What an inspiring love story! I also feel concerned for Wangda and Tshering’s children. I hope they will be okay. And I appreciate Wangda’s simple and concise explanation about HIV treatment and medication.

    I hope we learn from their lessons and find ways to help others in whatever small ways we can in our daily lives.

  16. they have come out in open to give back something to the society with their experience and sufferings that they have gone through so that others dont do the same mistakes.
    no its on our part how we deal with them from now on.

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