Every time that Farai visits, he acts more and more like a child. Yesterday he was laughing and cheating at cards like any kid. It was really amazing to see Farai transform from a scared kid witha tumor in his eye to a energetic, laughing kid.
Farai and his father stopped by yesterday after receiving the results of some earlier blood tests. I spent my time with Farai. Kathy and Mary Beth on the other hand, spent their time with the father Richard. Completely unsuspectedly, the blood tests discovered that Farai is HIV positive. The hospital is only assuming that the mother (who died of Meningitis) was also HIV positive.
Statisticly, at least as of 5 years ago, 1 in every 3 people in Zimbabwe are HIV positive. The statistics are nowhere near as shocking as the realitiy. HIV is not something that really comes up in conversation, so I have no idea who that I know here who is HIV positive. I am sure of 6 people who are HIV positive (I am sure there are more, they just have not told me). 4 of them are children, 1 is am adult, and the other recently passed away in the hospital.
It is hard to believe that so many children have HIV. Thanks to new medication (which is available in Zimbabwe), the chances of HIV being spread from an infected mother to the child has been drastically reduced. Yet so many children still have HIV. In Zimbabwe, I have found that there is a bit of a taboo around HIV. While there is a surge in HIV education, there is not the needed readiness to get tested. People do not seem to want to get tested, and even if they do they may not have the money for the test or have anywhere to go get tested.
It is hard to see a 9 year olds life melt away. In two weeks time, Farai was told that he had a tumor in his eye and is HIV positive. Had his mother been tested before giving birth and been given the current procedures, chances are that Farai would not be HIV positive. Yet now he is 9 years old and has to take medication for the rest of his life. Since his father cannot even afford the bus fare into Harare, I have no idea how they will afford the medication.