#Personal Stories

What Disease Did Your Father Have? Why is HIV still such a taboo?

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My father, who recently passed away, was an HIV+ patient. I am a 20-year-old, medical student and I recently started dating this guy from my apartment complex. We dated for 20-25 days, hooked up, then when I was sharing with him my father’s HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) positive status, he suddenly cringed out and started heading home. Why is HIV still such a taboo?

I was made to feel extremely guilty about the kind of family I belong to. I spent that night thinking about what the consequences would be, would he continue dating me or leave me. Waiting for him to reply after sending multiple messages, I waited till 6 in the morning, cried hard thinking what have I done wrong? Why do I have to pay for certain mistakes that my father made? He was a chronic alcoholic too. I had a very traumatic childhood too.

When this guy woke up, he said to me that he would have accepted alcoholism as part of my father’s personality and defended me in front of his extended family in case anything happened. But HIV is unacceptable in Gujarati Brahmin households and he wouldn’t be able to defend me in case his extended relatives find out about his health status and the cause of death.

HIV Taboo: He forced me to get myself tested, and after I got myself tested, showed him the HIV negative report, he ghosted me within 2-3 days.

He said he doesn’t wish to talk to me anymore, I should mind my own business. This broke me, emotionally. His friends tried convincing him, that I am not the one who is positive and my father’s HIV status is nowhere related to me as a person. However, he said at the age of 23 when you go out and earn, you start realising that there’s no point in taking a stand for your partner against the family-like 19-20-year olds do. At 23, you need to start thinking about what your family wants from you.

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Before this, I did fit into the criteria of what he wanted because I was pursuing an MBBS. When I told his mother, about what he’s done, she made a mockery out of my father’s HIV status. She said I should have told this to him on the very first day and that I have lied to him, it’s my mistake and she was loudly asking me while we stood on the floor outside their house, what disease did your father have, why did my son leave you; for me to fell embarrassed.

Why are women subjected to such behaviour?

Why do mothers of boys don’t accept their son’s mistakes and take action against them? Why do men fear taking a stand for their partners in front of their families? Why are women subjected to judgements?

Just because a woman belongs to a dysfunctional family doesn’t mean that she is unsuitable to get married!

My father was a chronic alcoholic, my past partner’s parents refused to accept me too. Just because I didn’t belong to a “correct family background.” My ex also said to me that even if I show 1000 HIV negative reports, I wouldn’t get a good partner.

I had called another friend and told him what happened, he said to me yes anyone would get scared, what if it’s transmitted by drinking water from shared bottles, why is there little to no awareness about this topic? Why is HIV considered taboo?

When my father passed away these guys didn’t even bother showing up, didn’t even bother texting, both my previous partners treated me poorly. I wish guys of this age were a bit sensitive and sensible. The question is, should a 20-year-old be subjected to scrutiny for her father’s wrong deeds?

The author wishes to remain anonymous. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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