In honor the Rock the Red Pump campaign, I thought I would tackle the issue from a different angle.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with a man who has had the HIV/AIDS virus for several years now, who has been in and out of the hospital because of complications of the virus. He hasn’t taken his anti-viral drugs in many years, and does not want any parts of any life-preserving measures that the health care system can offer him.
That is, he didn’t until I helped him think about the consequences his choices may have had on his mother.
We had a chance to talk about little bit about his “in case of emergency” plan. They way he explained it to me most of his friends were homeless, and because of that they weren’t allowed in his building (or welcome around the building for that matter). He was having some noticible difficulty with breathing, which was making it hard for him to do all of the things he needed to do to take care of himself. Still, he was adamant that if he was to live out his final days at home, he wanted to do so. Home was set up so it was comfortable. He doubted that any other place would be quite as comfortable.
After we talked a little bit, I presented him with a hypothetical situation.
Me: So, you don’t really have anybody to check in on you?
Him: Well, my mom does. She has a key. She’s the reason I’m here in the first place.
Me: What do you mean?
Him: She’s the one who wants all this stuff done. I’ve made my peace. If I go today that’s okay. I’ve had a good life.
Me: So, let me set a scene for you. You say your friends can’t get in the building to check on you right?
Me: So it could be DAYS before someone gets in to find you if something happens. So, she could walk in and find you in the bed, in a chair,or face down on the floor.
Him: (short pause). Yeah.
Me: How do you think that would make her feel? Just like you, she had to come to terms with your diagnosis…I’m not even a mother, but I can’t imagine how hard she must be struggling with the fact that you might die before she does. I know that you’ve made your peace with it, but I’m sure that she would rather know that you were in a place where you needs could be met instead of being at home and struggling in your final hours.
Him: I never thought of it that way.
In the same way that woman can be direct victims to HIV/AIDS, women have been and will continue to be indirect victims to the virus for as long as it exists. Awareness of your status and your partner’s status is NOT just something you do for yourself, so that your mother doesn’t become a s mother without a child, so that a sister doesn’t lose her sibling.