Nearly two months ago today, I met Piojo, a transgender woman suffering from AIDS and Tuberculosis. The first thing I noticed about her was the light inside of her, a light to fight, to survive and to push forward despite a very long list of health and emotional challenges.
Since that day, life has been one roller coaster ride after another. Somehow, we have both managed to stay strong. There were many scares, a few laughs and very little tears.
As days go by, however, and her health begins to falter, the fight is getting harder, we are getting tired and are trying to survive on the hope that we have left. I don’t want to see the light go out, but every day it’s buried a little bit further inside.
Today is World Tuberculosis Day. Perhaps for many in developed countries, we scratch our heads and wonder, “Tuberculosis?” But, for many around the world, it’s a disease that is still very prevalent and very serious. Especially for those living with HIV. And, especially for those who are marginalized like Piojo and other transwomen in Peru.
As with many issues, I believe that the situation for transwomen as well as those suffering from HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis would be better if there was more education and less discrimination. As Dr. Matos said in the article I wrote for Al Jazeera, “Discrimination and stigmatisation greatly affect their health.”
On this day of international awareness for the world’s second deadliest infectious disease, we should reflect on the lives of those like Piojo who should be facing a different fate and who should have the chance to a longer, healthier and happier life.
To read the full article and learn more about Piojo as well as the situation of HIV/AIDS and TB in the Americas, visit Al Jazeera.