This story is from one of the local organizations in East Asia Partners works with.
We tested 1,502 high-risk people for AIDS between January and June and trained 1,000 high-risk people on the virus. We also continued to counsel people through our hot line, serving 1,112 people last year. We counseled 39 people with AIDS phobia.
One of those was a man whose fear of AIDS started last year as a senior in high school. He was sick with serious diarrhea. His mother asked him carelessly, “Were you infected with AIDS?” Since then, his mother’s words have been rooted in his heart.
The word AIDS followed him through college and into his first job, dating and marriage, until he became a father. Whenever he and his family felt uncomfortable, AIDS was the first thing that came to his mind. For all these years, he called many hot lines for counseling, but didn’t take a test for fear of the result.
This situation continued until he called our office. I answered his call and we had our first counseling session on the phone. Very soon, I won his trust. The next counseling was supposed to be a face-to-face meeting 10 days later. Unfortunately, I had to fly to another city for a meeting. The appointment with him had to be postponed. Before I left, I sent him a message on QQ (Chinese Twitter) that said, “Leave me message if you need. I will reply you as soon as I can.”
On my last day there, it was already 10 p.m. when I return to hotel. I logged on my QQ and saw his many messages. The first message in the morning said, “Are you there?” In the afternoon, his messages became more and more intense: “When are you going to be online?” “Please show up soon!” “My son is not feel well today. I think he has AIDS. It’s all my fault!” “Are you going to be there or not?” I became nervous when I read his last message sent at 9:05 p.m. “I harmed my family. It’s all my fault. Please tell them I love them. I will be a good husband and father in my next life.”
I finally got through to him on the phone. I could feel he was too terrified to listen to me about anything. He asked again and again my time of arrival. I felt strongly that he couldn’t wait until I landed at 6:00 p.m. I promised him I would change the ticket to the earliest possible the next morning. “You must not commit suicide before you meet me! The last call has to come to me!” I insisted. The next morning, on the way to the airport, I talked to him every few minutes.
After landing, I met up with him. On the way to the office, as he was driving, I started urgent counseling. But I saw he needed immediate psychological support. So I asked him to pull over along the highway. When he calmed down a little, I did a short counseling, then gave him a rapid blood test (using finger blood). The result was negative. I told him he did not have AIDS! Immediately his emotions began to settle down.
When we got to the office, I gave him half an hour counseling and pressure-reducing training. After a few months, he was generally stable, just up and down occasionally. Recently, I’m helping him to shift his trust focus from me back to his life and family. I can see hope in his life!