When the time finally came for them to go into the doctor’s room, Catherine almost panicked. She didn’t know why exactly, but she had a feeling that some tragic news was going to come out of this visit. Which saddened her, because deep down she knew that if they received any horrible news today their upcoming marriage would be nullified. Her fiancé Thomas nagged her urgently and they entered the doctor’s room.
Doctor Mukhwana was an elderly, almost fragile looking doctor. He had a little moustache that he tagged at whenever he was nervous and tortoise shell spectacles that he wiped after every two minutes. He had the habit of tapping his desk with a pen every time he pondered about a complicated issue. For Mukhwana was not in the habit of answering questions carelessly or without thinking them out first. Behind the clownish looking frail man was a man full of wisdom that had seen and handled a lot of cases and patients.
He ushered Thomas and Catherine into the small room and smiled pleasantly at them.
“What brings you here Thomas?” he asked while looking at Catherine over the rims of his spectacles, acknowledging her presence with a slight nod of the head.
Thomas, ever the one to plunge headfirst into an issue without beating about the bush answered immediately.
“Daktari, we are here for an HIV test.”
“Ohh,” was all Mukhwana could manage. Clearly, he knew Thomas very well.
“Thing is, the church says we have to do one before we go on with the wedding.”
“They dragged you here,” Mukhwana said with a sly smile.
“Actually, we are here at our own free will,” Catherine said timidly and Thomas glared at her angrily. She was here to be seen, not heard. Catherine lowered her gaze pitifully and doctor Mukhwana looked at her gently, angry at Thomas. These politicians’ kids! Just because they came from powerful wealthy backgrounds didn’t give them any right to treat people anyway they wished. Some, like Thomas, thought they held everyone’s balls in a firm grip.
Mukhwana coughed and went about his business of wiping his glasses for the fifth time since they stepped into the room.
“We shall do the test, no doubt about it. But we’ll have to talk abit first.”
“About what?” Thomas drawled.
“A bit of counseling, in preparation for any eventuality.”
“That’s bull,” Thomas said irritably. “We both know our statuses. We are negative. Isn’t that so, Catherine?”
“Yes doc, we definitely are not sick.
“What if you are?” mukwhana said with a slight smile. He’d seen hundreds of Thomas’s.
“Aids is a myth Daktari. A hoax. The biggest fraud of the 21st century. It was just a monster created by multibillion pharmaceuticals to get richer.”
Mukhwana said nothing for a while. If he was shocked he managed to hide it well. He’d definitely not seen that coming.
“Kindly elaborate,” he finally managed to say breathlessly. His life was a boring routine. He loved challenges and arguments like this. Ignorant arguments. He had slowly drifted apart from his colleagues due to their busy schedules. Hell yeah, he loved such arguments.
“First of all, HIV is not aids. HIV does not lead to aids.”
“So what is aids?” mukwhana asked.
“Aids is not a disease daktari. You know that. I know that. Nobody ever died of aids or HIV for that matter. People die of pneumonia, or herpes or whatever, never from aids, no? so according to researchers, When fatal diseases come together and take advantage of a weakened immune system, these disease form a cluster that they now refer to as aids. But it’s not a single disease.”
“And which researchers are we talking about here Thomas? Do you have any in mind?” daktari was thoroughly enjoying himself.
“Its so sad that most of them have ended up being called “denialists.” I know quite a number of them, you see.”
“Name a few please.”
“Peter duesberg, for starters.”
“Oh, he’s the father of denialists, no doubt.”
Thomas glared at him angrily.
“He is not a denialist. He’s just tried to unearth these conspiracy theories.”
“Do you know what deusberg thinks of how the virus is spread?”
“Its his belief that it can only be spread amongst homosexuals and not heterosexuals.”
“So enlighten me please, how can you explain the millions of women worldwide who have the virus?”
Thomas said nothing.
“Tell me researcher, how?”
“Most of these women performed anal sex, which is what they are not saying.”
Mukhwana shook his head. The kid was nuts.
“They called Thabo Mbeki a denialist too.” Thomas said quietly, hoping the name would bring an impact.
“Mbeki, in all fairness was a confused old man. Because of his stand, do you know how many people died in South Africa during his regime? 340,000 deaths, 171,000 other HIV infections and 35,000 infant HIV infections. Please pause and digest that. Imagine the president of your country, writing letters to the whole world, saying HIV is not real. Banning HIV treatment from being used in the country.”
Thomas was now quiet.
“Mbeki and his health minister had a concoction made of lemon, beetroot, olive oil and garlic that they claimed cured HIV. They tried their remedy on a number of famous celebrities and other not so famous personalities. All of these people died. All of them. Of fully blown Aids.”
“Pharmaceuticals know the cure to this virus. They don’t want to sell it because they are making trillions from selling the antiretroviral drugs.”
“Do you see how you are contradicting yourself? You just said it’s a hoax. Now you are admitting its real but its medication is being hidden?”
“That’s not what I said. I said HIV does not lead to aids. Do you know about the AZT?”
“The first HIV drug?”
“Right. Do you know how many people it killed? If anything it hastened the deaths of the people who were infected about the virus then.”
“I know about AZT and the controversies surrounding it—-“
“This drug hastened victims to their death, doctor. The side effects were totally devastating; more than the virus itself. They were on a mission to clear a part of the population and we all know initially who these were.”
“You can’t blame them. It was the sixties. A strange disease was being noticed. The scientists were desperate in their search for a cure. They had to work with what they had.”
“Tell me about Magic Johnson. He is still sick. HIV positive. How is that possible?”
“He eats wells and takes medication.”
“How is it possible that he is still alive? Most people diagnosed during that era are long gone. Could it be that there is a medication available to the rich and mighty only? How come only Africans are dying? Can you explain all this to me, daktari?”
“I’ll just tell you one thing Thomas. Do not be a denialist. Do your research; you’ll get all your answers there. HIV is real. Aids is real. Let no one lie to you. One last question, do you know what happened to most of the famous denialists?”
Thomas looked at him without saying anything. He damned well knew what happened to most denialists. It was a troubling fact.
“The editors of the magazine continuum consistently denied the existence of HIV/AIDS. The magazine shut down when its editors all died of AIDS. Activist Christine maggiore founded an organization to help other HIV positive mothers to avoid taking antiretroviral drugs. She died in 2008 of Aids. Her three year old daughter died of AIDS related pneumonia in 2005. These are just but a few of many of the denialists who ended up being killed by something they claimed did not exist.”
They were both disrupted by the snoring of Catherine. She’d gotten bored along the way and her head was now nodding up and down. They looked at each other and smiled.
“So, about your test,” mukwhana begun.
“Ohh that. I’ve changed my mind. We’ll come back for it tomorrow.”
“Whatever you say, Thomas. But I got to warn you. You better take care of that girl better than you currently are. Or Else another man will come and snatch her away from you.”
“I’ll try my best daktari. I love her. I just don’t know how to express it.”