Human Of Courage – Hồ Quang Vũ

When my wife told me she was pregnant, I got so depressed I felt like my world has collapsed. 

Until the day she gave birth to our son, I couldn’t force myself to sleep, only curling myself up into a ball in a corner. I thought by then I must already have transmitted the disease to my wife and my kid. 

I got HIV, and I have learnt to be OK with it, but if my family, the people who I hold closest to my heart, got it from me, alas, that must have made me the biggest jerk in life. And I don’t think I can live with that idea.

Two years prior to the news, I was diagnosed HIV positive. At the time my body had already been loaded with piles of illnesses: diabetes, psoriasis, even with a tumor in my bladder once, lots. Then this HIV disease came – the one that everyone around me has always vilified, I became even more depressed. 

My wife was perplexed as all of a sudden I asked her to run blood tests and do checkups. Only after we learned that she was [HIV] negative was my burden lightened and I dare told her about my condition. It broke her heart; all she did was cry. But then she said she believed it was never in anyone’s intention to get the disease, so just let it be. Those simple words did lift a huge weight off my chest, and gave me a motivation to start the ARV treatment. 

In the beginning, I was too embarrassed showing up at the treatment center that I would ask my wife to pick up the doses for me instead. I have friends in the city and I feared once any of them saw me there, they would know it and rumors would start circulating. When my wife could not help me with the picking up, I often waited until late – like after 4PM, a quieter time at the center, to venture in. 

And one day, my wife told me she was pregnant. I thought she was talking crazy; I could not believe it till I saw the ultrasound scan myself. And that was when I started living on my nerves waiting for the test results. The initial test said they both were [HIV] negative. But we had to wait until my child was born to know for sure. Those hellish six months felt like forever. 

The day my wife went into labor, I also was admitted into the hospital for diabetes. When visiting her in her room, the first thing I asked was the blood result. When they said both the mother and the baby were confirmed to be negative, I felt all the illnesses and the pains in my body was just evaporated. That I was cured by the news! It was until then I dare to hold my newborn son. I remember the first time I got him in my arms, he was so tiny and fragile I fear that I might drop him! For my entire wretched life, I could never ever have dreamed of one day I would father such a beautiful child as him.

Ever since our son came around, I try to spend time with him as much as possible. Before, you would never see me home like this; I would go roaming in the neighborhoods, always in distress. But now few could get me out of my house, even when friends ask me to go have a coffee, I would just decline. When I actually have to go out, I would just go in haste to come back to my son as soon as I can. 

He looks just like me, and acts just like me as well. I always have to play with him first thing when I come home. It is a must, or he would be very upset he would pretend to ignore me later when I try to hold him. And then I would have to do everything to make up to him. That cheeky little monster!

He was also the reason I started committing to the ARV treatment. You see, aside from the HIV, I have all kinds of other illnesses in my body, and each of them can kill me anytime. So now I am fighting for more time to be with my wife and my kid. I also feel embarrassed of my condition no longer, thinking ‘Whatever, this is not like I wanted to be HIV positive. No one ever does.’ I should keep living honestly as I have always been. And I have never made myself a burden to anyone, I own them nothing, so why need I live on their terms. 

I named my kid Nhan, meaning “human” and “humane”, hoping it would be a constant reminder to him that no matter what happens in life, he will always live true to himself. He has not learnt his first words yet, but I want to teach him to say no lies and no curses, and never cheat or steal – those I hate the most. 

With my diabetes, I am still worried who would take care of my kid and my wife once I am gone. If I cannot follow him along later in life, I just wish that he will finish his education and find a good job. Above all, he must learn to live with dignity, with his head held high, like his father. That all for me is already happiness.

Green One UN House, 304 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam