Vishal is 21 years old, a very polite young gentleman. He is currently doing his 3rd year bachelor’s degree. Vishal and his mother Manju have been a part of Shalom for over 12 years.

A glimpse into Vishal’s life
My family used to live in Madhya Pradesh but when I got really sick we came to Delhi for tests. After I was diagnosed with HIV, they tested the rest of my family; both my parents tested positive, but my sister did not. When we found out, my parents realised they could not afford ART treatment for us all (this was before treatment became free in 2004) and so my father went without the medication. This is when my father got sick; he grew increasingly ill and was unable to work any longer in the shoe factory. I was only 4 at the time and can’t really remember much about him.

I found out about my HIV status in my 7th grade– I must have been about 12 years old – and I was put on first line ART. My mum disclosed to me although I kind of already knew from picking up things from the posters at the ART clinic. My mum has been my support – she has worked very hard and bought expensive medicines for me. The rest of my family has had a mixed reaction to my HIV – some have been better than others but most of them prefer to keep their distance from me – I don’t like to speak about it, in school I was bullied about my facial features which were a side effect of the medicines, so then I stayed away from these so called friends. The hardest time of my life was when I was being bullied and teased by ‘friends’ at school. Also, when my mum gets sick, that’s very difficult for me , but I’d say the happiest moments for me are when I am with my immediate family – my mom and my sister – I have a great relationship with both of them. I care a lot for my mother – she is my role model.

I vaguely remember things about my father’s death. I couldn’t grasp what was really happening – but the cremation is something that’s so fresh in my mind– the flames – for a long time whenever I saw fire I would run – I wanted to put it out. I longed for my father when I was growing up. I really miss him even now.

When I look to the future, I hope and pray they can find a cure for HIV, but I realize I need to live each day as it comes, I know I will have to earn money for my sisters’ wedding. I’d like to study further to become a lecturer– I have been teaching a bit already. I really want to teach – I’m most passionate about maths and science.

Vishal was recently admitted to Shalom. His viral load was very high in spite of being on second line ART medication for a year. He seemed very disheartened and discouraged with his health situation. Please uphold Vishal in prayer, that he would recover soon and would be able to continue his studies.

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