03 Apr 2013 12:45
Raj Kumar is one of many Nepalis who contracted HIV from a dirty needle. He is now trying to reintegrate into society despite his condition, and is working hard to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a singer.
Though Raj Kumar knew that he had HIV in 2004, he didn’t disclose the fact to his wife out of the fear of ruining his family and being stigmatized by society. It has now been two months since Raj Kumar disclosed the news about his HIV infection to his wife, with much care and counseling.
He took advantage of the help of his friends, colleagues and counselors to do the “impossible task,” of telling others. Raj Kumar said that he waited for “the right time,” but always “felt heavy with the guilt of hiding it from his wife.” The right moment, however, eventually arrived, after nearly a decade of secrecy.
“It was difficult to gather the courage to tell,” he added. “Now I have gathered courage to face it.”
Raj Kumar is now pursuing his childhood dream to become a singer. HIs first song, “Mod,” was released during a function in Kathmandu on April 29, 2013.
“I was born genius, drugs spoiled me,” said Raj Kumar, looking back at his life. When he reached grade eight he began using drugs, eventually becoming addicted. It was very late that his mother, his primary caretaker, finally found out about his substance abuse problem.
According to government data, an average of 1,437 new infections are reported each year. In 2011, 50,287 people were living with HIV and 3,804 among them were children. Out of the total HIV cases reported in 2011, 87.9 percent were transmitted sexually. The number of new cases of HIV infections has been on decline in the last five years, and government figures now estimate HIV prevalence in the adult population to be at 0.3 percent.
Nepal’s first HIV case was reported in 1988. High-risk groups in the country include intravenous drug users, female sex workers and their clients, and migrant laborers.