Two little lines appear and within seconds the world is turned upside down. In an instant a seemingly healthy person begins the fight of their life, forever coping with a life sentence. Two little lines appear and the reactive result means you are now HIV positive.
Fingers crossed and under breath prayers have accompanied me to work at the Neri Clinic for the past few days. Hoping that as a person sits down on the green stool beside me I will soon be writing NR in the ledger instead of grappling to control my emotions as the following conversation must break devastating news. At the Neri Clinic, HIV screenings are done the way taking blood pressures in the US would be done. Routine checks for people seeking attention for a headache can yield an unexpected, unwanted result.
Nothing can prepare you for the blow as the first line appears. A thin strip of paper that is read like a pregnancy test-two lines positive, one line negative-sits on the table as I anxiously await the results. A man of 23, a mother of a young baby, and a women who has just found out she is pregnant, have all become victims to the lines.
HIV rates in Zambia are said to be around 15%. HIV is a constant topic and woven into the work of most organizations here. Numbers are daunting and huge. Numbers paint a picture, but a face leaves a portrait—one I will never forget. I looked into their eyes and spoke of shared connections, and sat helplessly as two lines appeared; a sickening feeling that nothing could be done. I cannot walk the rest of the journey with them that I feel like I was a catalyst for and today that does not sit well.