A good friend makes the heart glad
Eventually Tatyana could not stand the suspense; she had noticed for a while that some men kept staring at Bianca. She swallowed a large gulp of wine for some Dutch courage and asked Bianca if she still had sex. Bianca laughed and answered ‘Of course, darling, I do. I have the same red blood that you have. But I am more careful about it because I try to protect others from getting HIV and myself from other STDs. I know that many people think contracting HIV is the worst thing that could happen and that it means that they cannot have sex or children but it isn’t. Whenever I meet a guy I really like and who is also into me I explain the situation to him and take him to meet my nurse and from there on its pretty normal. Of course there are some guys who will disappear the moment I mention HIV but I’ve grown to accept it.’
Tatyana was amazed and yet curious so she asked ‘Is it ok for you to drink alcohol even while you are using the medication?’ Bianca thought for a couple of seconds and said ‘honestly I have not yet asked my doctor about that but I have been drinking moderately for the past five years and I have never experienced any severe reactions so I guess it’s okay. Maybe I’m wrong, but... I guess I haven’t given it much thought.’
Tatyana marvelled to herself over how much she had learnt from Bianca in a relatively short period of time and was sure that they would become really good friends. Beyond that she was moved by how Bianca lived her life with such enthusiasm. Prior to their meeting she had always imagined that people living with HIV were either terminally ill or condemned to a life of perpetual despondence, but now she knew better. She was thankful that fate had brought her in contact with Bianca. She was a simple example of someone who had refused to be labelled by an illness of a handicap.
Later that night as they parted ways Tatyana invited Bianca for dinner at her home the following week and she accepted. As they hugged goodbye, Bianca felt relieved, she had taken a gamble to reveal her status and she was pleased that Tatyana had not only understood but had also welcomed her unto her home. She had not detected any hint of revulsion from Tatyana. She had come to watch out for, expect and tolerate those expressions of mild revulsion. But unlike many people to whom she had revealed her status, Tatyana seemed genuinely accommodating and friendly. Bianca knew that it was people like Tatyana that made life easier and a lot less gloomy for people with HIV.
As Bianca cycled home that night, she remembered one of her mother’s favourite sayings: A good friend makes the heart glad. She was delighted that she had made a new friend simply by being open about her status. Her heart certainly was glad and it almost seemed as though the world was brighter and more colourful.