Raj Kumar is among many Nepalis who contracted HIV from a dirty needle, and now he is trying to adjust in society and working hard to achieve his long cherished dream, to be 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 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 help of his friends, colleagues and counselors to do the “impossible task,” telling others. Raj Kumar said that he waited for “the right time,” but always “felt heavy with the guilt of hiding it to his wife.” The right moment however, came after nearly a decade. “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 be a singer. Raj Kumar’s first song “Mod” was released during a function in Kathmandu on April 29, 2013.
“I was born genius, drugs spoiled me,” Raj Kumar said looking back at his life. When he reached grade eight he got into a habit of using drugs. It was very late that his mother, his primary caretaker, knew about it.
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 of them are children. Out of the total HIV cases reported in 2011, 87.9 percent were from sexual transmission. The number of new cases of HIV infections has been on decline in the last five years. In 2007, a total of 64,585 people were believed to be living with HIV. Government figures put HIV prevalence in the adult population at 0.3 percent. Only 20,583 HIV cases are reported so far.
Nepal’s first HIV case was reported in 1988. The high-risk group includes intravenous drug users, female sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with other men and male migrant laborers.
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