Sunday, August 28, 2016


Interview: HIV-Positive Tajik Woman Says 'I Try To Banish Negative Thoughts'

Tahmina Haidar says she lives life "hoping that I will have a good future, because getting upset would weaken my immune system and damage my health."
Tahmina Haidar says she lives life "hoping that I will have a good future, because getting upset would weaken my immune system and damage my health."
It's been nearly two years since 26-year-old Tahmina Haidar found out she was infected with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.

After losing her husband and child to an AIDS-related illness and feeling stigmatized and isolated in her native village in Tajikistan, Haidar moved to Dushanbe to rebuild her life.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Farangis Najibullah, Haidar spoke about how she has learned to live with the potentially deadly virus and look "at the bright side" of her situation.

RFE/RL: How did you find out that you were infected with HIV?

Tahmina Haidar:
My baby daughter got sick and died in hospital in July 2010. Then my husband died in September that year. After my daughter's death I found out that I was HIV-positive, too. Doctors say I've been infected with the virus since 2009, when my husband came back from [working in] Russia. He had a drug addiction, which I was not aware of. Later I found out that he had known he was HIV-positive but hadn't told me.

RFE/RL: What was your family's reaction when they were told about your medical condition?

When my family came to the hospital and heard that I and my husband were HIV-positive, they had a huge argument with us in the hospital. My family and relatives wouldn't speak to me for nearly a year. Initially, they thought they would get infected with the virus if I breathed on them or touched them.

RFE/RL: Shortly afterward, you left your village in the central Hisor district and moved to Dushanbe. How were you able to rebuild your life in the capital?

Before I got infected, I was a village housewife. My marriage was arranged by my parents. I didn't study anywhere, I didn't have a job, and had never seen Dushanbe. Now I'm studying psychology in a Dushanbe university, and I've also got a certificate from accountancy courses. I take English classes, too.

I've traveled to several countries. I consider myself lucky. I don't hate life because of this disease. Getting infected with this virus was my destiny. I don't blame anyone for this. From the moment I found out about it, I felt it was fate.

RFE/RL: Do you currently receive any medical treatment to manage your medical condition?

I feel completely normal, it feels like nothing has changed, health-wise. I feel the same as before being diagnosed with the virus.  But I'm constantly under doctor supervision, I follow the doctors' orders, I lead a healthy lifestyle. Every three months I get a blood test to check my immune system. Currently, I don't need to receive any medicine because so far I'm feeling good.
Getting infected with this virus was my destiny. I don't blame anyone for this. From the moment I found out about it, I felt it was fate.

However, the time might come that my immune system weakens, and I will need to take medicine. Currently, the doctors tell me I need to lead a healthy lifestyle, eat well, and try to stay positive. If I continue like this, perhaps I won't need to take medicine in the next year or two. But when the time comes, the doctors would tell me to start taking medicine. Once I start taking the medicine, I would have to take it regularly for the rest of my life.

RFE/RL: Is medical treatment easily available for HIV/AIDS patients in Tajikistan?

All patients [are meant to] receive medicine and medical treatment free of charge. It's funded by the government and international agencies. According to Tajik law, HIV/AIDS patients are eligible for free health care. But in reality, the problem is that they can only get free medical treatment at the Center for HIV/AIDS. Elsewhere, all other doctors charge money.

RFE/RL: Some HIV/AIDS patients in Tajikistan complain about what they describe as doctors' prejudice toward such patients.

Yes, many doctors here stigmatize HIV/AIDS patients. They routinely insult and intimidate such patients. Despite being doctors and knowing the fact that this virus isn't transmitted by breathing, they try not to admit HIV-infected patients. They insult such patients.

So when HIV-infected women have to visit doctors [outside the Center for HIV/AIDS] they usually hide from the doctors the fact that they are HIV-positive. When we disclose our condition to doctors, they usually use any pretext not to admit us.

RFE/RL: Given your condition, it must be hard for you to make plans for the future.

I try to live my life hoping that I will have a good future, because getting upset would weaken my immune system and damage my health. Of course, there are moments that I feel hopeless. But I try to banish negative thoughts and look at the bright side of my situation.
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Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 01, 2012 16:32
Aha, first Ukraine and Russia, now Tajikistan - I mean, really, guys, you just can not go out on the streets in that part of the world without seeing hundreds, thousands of people just dying on the streets on AIDS and related illnesses :_)).
I mean, I wonder where "Ivan" from California is to ask the "journalists" of this "medium" whether they don't get tired of publishing the same cheap US propaganda crap over and over again...
In Response

by: Lili
December 03, 2012 20:14
Eugenio, I am not sure if you are aware of this or not, but in the United States, we regularly read news stories about individuals that live here in the US (and in Europe) suffering from AIDS, cancer, etc. In particular we are concerned about epidemics and how our society is handling them.

The Seattle Times has criticism of the local and national government on its front pages daily.

You see, what to you sounds like propaganda against a country, to us sounds like reality. Because we are not used to a media that regularly airbrushes human suffering, corruption, and problems out of life.

In fact, our journalists are rewarded for exposing corruption here in the United States. The recent Pulitzer Prize nominations reflect this:

So save your naive insults for a government that has been shielding you from reality. AIDS exists in every country and it's a huge problem everywhere. Giving a voice to its victims is humanism, not propaganda.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
December 03, 2012 22:31
Dear Lili,Eugenio/Eugenia is red bug positive,that means he/she or rather it is not responsible for its /mis-/deeds as he is not aware of anything that goes outside its bed bug,pardon,red bug ridden head.So,the fault, Lili is only yours-its not fair to cricize an invalid,so please try to understand and help it,because it cant.

by: TK from: Vilnius
December 02, 2012 12:23
This is not good journalism. Not worth the read. Not worth the unbeknownst tax money of the US public that funds it.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 02, 2012 17:36
TK, you are saiying: "This is not good journalism. Not worth the read". I mean, TK, nothing ever published on this web-site was supposed to be "good journalism". This is an outlet for cheap US govt propaganda, aimed - in this particular case - to make the reader believe that certain parts of the world are just so horrible and unhealthy that the readers would never come up with the idea of going their on their own and discovering the truth for themselves. So, in case you were looking for "good journalism" here - sorry, wrong address :-)).
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
December 02, 2012 21:47
We are all appalled at the monstrous drivel published daily on this bloody Beavus&Butthead web-site.However this gives a chance for the mother russian beavus and buttheads-that`s Lubyanka Jackie and Vienna Eugenia to shine their red light brightly till the final victory of Cretinism,pardon,Socialism.Soon,we shall bring down the land of the bloodiest capitalist,we shall shut down all its outlets and there will be the one and only outlet of truth,peace and freedom-Radio Moss cow that is and if you are not blinded by the red light to shine all over the world you will be able to watch Russia Today,and we will also send you the latest copy of the russian edition of Playboy-soon to be renamed PlayJack featuring a center spread of newlywed Eugenia,and it will be a world beater,I can assure you.Until then you must read only the posts of Whacko Jacko from SU and Eugenia from Vienna,and dont pay any attention to the bloody Camel from Kurdistan,or else...!!!
In Response

by: peter (ottawa) from: queens-nyc
December 03, 2012 20:45
eugenio-aka as evgenei -from the bsmt of the russian embassy in vienna-if rfe is as bad as you say why do you spend so much of your time commenting on bad journalism . One of russia s primary exports is hiv infected natashas. Hiv is worldwide and this article exposes the sad reality of it.
In Response

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
December 04, 2012 02:35
It is clear that AIDS came from Russia to Tajikistan and that this is a very big problem for the entire post-Soviet space.But we must not also forget that there are also such forgotten places like Kurdistan.
People of the Earth want to know, how the situation there on AIDS
I know people in Russia who were very upset to learn that they are infected,out of grief, they began to drink russian vodka and so far, none died (this is absolutely serious).
I am sure that scientists in the World should pay more attention to this phenomenon.
There are also vague doubts that with camel in this plan, are not all right...

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