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Jakarta Post

5-year-old girl fights HIV stigma in East Java village

  • Asip Hasani

    The Jakarta Post

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Tulungagung, East Java   /   Tue, December 3, 2019   /  05:41 pm
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New friends: A girl living with HIV shows a photo of a gathering last year with other HIV-positive children. The girl has been largely shunned by her friends and neighbors at Sendang village in Tulungagung, East Java, after her HIV diagnosis two years ago. (JP/Asip Hasani)

A 5-year-old girl holds two antiretroviral (ARV) tablets, one of them as big as a peanut, in her right hand. She swallows the tablets and washes them down with a cup of water. "I take these twice a day so that I can stay healthy," the girl said in her bamboo-walled house in Sendang village on the slopes of Mount Wilis, about 25 kilometers from downtown Tulungagung, East Java. Confidence was written all over her face when she talked about kindergarten and shared her dream of studying at university. When friends asked her about the medicine, she would answer in her usual spirited and cheerful tone that she had to take it because “I don’t want to die from HIV." However, the girl does not have many friends anymore. They have stayed away since she was diagnosed with HIV at Iskak Hospital in Tulungagung two years ago. Her neighbors have also kept their dista...