False Hopes Leave +ve Persons In Trauma

Dimapur | August 10 : After their slow painful struggle to come to terms with their condition, a group of HIV positive people in Nagaland recently had all their hopes, faith and trust dashed to the ground with the false assurance of having been cured. An enthusiastic preacher from Mizoram – who was in the state capital for a healing crusade – decided to take his gift of healing to the HIV positive patients, and rounded up several of the lot at NMAs Hospice in Kohima, where he preached, prayed and declared them “cured”.

The preacher was accompanied by a top bureaucrat of the state, senior officials of the Medical department and the Nagaland State Aids Control Society (NSACS) as well as members of the Naga Mothers Association (NMA).

It was disclosed that on August 2, Saturday, the said preacher along with the bureaucrats, visited Cradle Ridge, an NSACS-funded and NMA-run HIV/AIDS hospice in Kohima. After having prayed over them, the preacher declared that all the positive persons gathered there have been cured except one person who was repeatedly prayed over until he was declared cured after the third prayer.

After the “curing”, the preacher challenged the positive people to get retested for HIV/AIDS when the hospital reopened on Monday. But the euphoria for the positive patients lasted only till 12 oclock, Monday (having waited eagerly for the result of their retest), when they were found still HIV positive.

Bonnie Konyak, for The Morung Express

The affected positive persons are extremely hurt over the false hopes provided by the preacher and especially by the people who were supposed to look out for their welfare. “I couldn’t wait for Monday when they told me I was cured” says a member of the KNP+, who was also present during this charade. He was “a little” discouraged though not angry though.

However, he expressed greater concern for his other friends, especially those who were just coming to terms with their condition and starting to grow a little faith. One of the positive patients who was on ART had even wanted to stop taking the treatment immediately but she was convinced by the warden to continue the ART until results of retest on Monday proved otherwise.

But more than the incident at the hospice, the preachers did a greater damage to the positive patients by inviting some of them to give their testimony at the Mizo church on Sunday, where he would be preaching. While they were debating as to whether they should come out openly and declare themselves (whether as positive people or as cured), the preacher sent a vehicle to pick up five of them (four patients and one in-charge of the hospice) on Sunday evening. At the end of the service, the preacher announced to a packed congregation that “five” HIV positive patients have been cured and asked them to stand up and identify themselves. Though the four positive persons, through their in-charge, communicated reluctance to identify themselves, they eventually stood up on the insistence of the people sitting behind them. Now the state capital is said to be abuzz with news of HIV positive persons being cured by the preacher.

The entire episode has greatly affected the positive persons who are going through immense psychological trauma following the ugly incident. One HIV/AIDS worker termed the whole drama as “very stupid”. She says that some of them are supposedly “ok” but the others are disappointed, discouraged or angry. While an official of the NSACS tried to justify the incident saying that the prayer program had not been a project of the NSACS, and that they had gone simply because they had been invited, the HIV/AIDS worker maintains that the mere presence of top bureaucrats of NSACS and Medical department had endorsed the preachers announcement of having cured them of HIV/AIDS.

“They were the same people sanctioning the money for their treatment, the same people who were earlier going around saying there is no cure…” the HIV/AIDS worker said while explaining how the victims had been convinced of having been cured by their presence with the unknown preacher.

Despite the extensive damage, NSACS official maintained that “this was done with the best of interest” and the prayer had not been a project of the HIV/AIDS society. They had been there simply because they were invited. The positive persons, on the other hand, are now struggling all over again, to come to terms with the world with the help of concerned AIDS workers, believers and other members of the society.

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