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Nov 28, 2002

Beyond statistics: living with AIDS

Story Picture
We opened tonight’s newscast with the cold hard facts of the AIDS epidemic in Belize. And while those numbers tell an important part of the story, they do little to convey the reality of those who must live every day with the disease’s physical pain and mental anguish. Jacqueline Woods reports.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Thirty-two year old Delmi has full blown AIDS. The mother of two young children contracted the disease from her husband who died from the same sickness five years ago at the age of forty-eight.

Delmi

“I feel so bad because he was the best man weh I could mi find here, you understand. He was the first person I met and he gave me a home. I never had no where to stay, I use to pay hotel. I just had a job cleaning out and it was not enough for me to eat. Sometimes I just use to eat dollar chicken. So when I found him, he promised he would give me this small house that he got fi live with he.”

Today, Delmi lives in a tiny one room apartment with her eleven year old daughter and five year old son. Both children have tested negative for the disease.

Delmi

“The only thing I was most mi afraid for, is that they had it. I noh care about me, you understand me. I no care because they dah everything I have. I noh have no mother, my father, he never cared for me. I dah the only daughter, I never know any aunts and noh have no sisters.”

Delmi says she does not know how much longer she will live. Some of the symptoms like rashes and the skin condition, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, have already taken over her most of her body.

Delmi

“The thing on my hand, it’s now getting worst, it growing. In five years it’s growing because it started with a little spot and then it caught on my hand, I have it like this part here. The only problem is the breathing, sometime I do not breathe good and sometime I end up in the bed without breathing.”

Delmi has had to battle also with the stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS.

Delmi

“First I use to sit down and cry. When I goh out ah town, I just go and come back and I cry. For that I use to get sick every minute. They use to just look pan me and you could know; they look at you and you turn your head and look at them and then this one the tell the other one something and they show my hand and they start to go far from me.”

This negative public response has turned Delmi and others like her into virtual shut-ins.

Martha Carillo, Coordinator, National Aids Commission

“The person who is living with HIV/AIDS is still someone living in hiding. We have not accomplished a level where persons living with HIV and AIDS are visible. We have a few persons who have been brave enough to come out and say I am HIV positive, but these persons have been experiencing discrimination and of course just the stigma related to the virus and the infection has not been something easy for them to deal with.”

Forty-two year old Michael Fox represents a Caribbean group of HIV positive persons and concerned individuals. The Caribbean Regional Network aims to provide access to information and treatment to HIV and AIDS patients; a matter of great concern to Fox when he was diagnosed in 1991.

Michael Fox, HIV Positive

“When I was first diagnosed, it was a frightening experience for me, but I needed to know right away about support, what support was in place for me, personal support not so much in the community so I was really, really afraid. I was just very, very afraid.”

Fox says he understands Delmi’s fears and the reason why she and hundreds of other HIV and AIDS patients prefer to remain anonymous.

Michael Fox

“It’s very difficult to really stand up, for a person who is living with the virus to say I have HIV. But it’s because of the fear of losing a job, fear of losing housing, fear of losing friends and sometimes fear of losing family.”

A sad experience that Delmi faced after her husband died and his family pushed her and the children out of the house they had occupied on the family’s property.

Delmi

“Because the family mi think me mi had it first and I passed it to the brother. That was a family yard and when he died, the brother put me out with my kids. He bruk the house where I live, and that was the spot where the house mi deh for the bredda. He put me out of the yard. He told me if I can’t feed my kids, sell them.”

Delmi says that although she has received offers from two families to adopt her children, she says as long as she is alive her son and daughter will remain with her.

Delmi

“I want my kids to stay with me. Just that I ask for. Noh tek them from me, I love them with all my heart. If they take them from me, I not going to make it longer.”

Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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