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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December 2003, 12:10 GMT
'Only love can put things right'
As part of a BBC series on Aids, people living with HIV from around the world tell their own stories in their own words.

David Poblete Vázquez
Sundays at David's house are reserved for a lie-in
David Poblete Vázquez is a 44-year-old Chilean sociologist living in Argentina who believes he became infected with HIV while injecting heroin in his youth. He describes how the love and support of his partner Maria Esther has enabled him to take the virus in his stride.

I've been living with HIV for a little over 19 years. I've lived with Maria Esther for more than 20 years and she is the mainstay of my life.

She supports me all the way - with my plans, my crazy moments, my chaotic ones. I hope that God will see his way to granting us a long time together.

Today is Tuesday and my first task of the day is to go and get my medication. It was my decision to attend a public hospital.

Some days there are so many of us the service can't cope. I "signed in" then went to see my doctor. Today I realised I spoke to her using tú - an informal address. I never did that before.

Today I realised there are a lot of people who know me. I expect they are surprised that I'm still alive. Others look on me as an example.

Losing a friend

Later I was walking back home and one of the things I did was take a photo of a tree which reminded me of a friend of mine, Gabriel, who used to like to stand under it when he was feeling bad.

They put a note on the door of my hospital room saying "Aids" in big letters
I also noticed that the tree had really grown. It's a little pine tree but it's grown a lot. A long time ago we would chat and make plans.

He rebelled against the medication, he was inconsistent with the treatment, one day on, one day off. Like so many things, it's a terrible waste.

I take between 13 and 18 pills a day. Why different amounts? Sometimes I just forget. I get very tired. Today for instance, I just couldn't hack it. I was writing stuff and I couldn't type. Sometimes, you just can't, you stiffen up.

Enjoying ironing

I'm trying to deal with it. Just doing the little things I like doing, and keeping up the friends we have. To have them around when the time comes to say goodbye. I'm always saying to them: just the right number of you to say "he wasn't such a bad person", "he was a good guy".

There are a lot of people who know me. I expect they are surprised that I'm still alive. Others look on me as an example
It's so important to have the support of your family, to have their love and affection, for any sort of illness. I don't claim this is the worst illness, but to have the love and closeness of a family is absolutely vital. There's a line in a song by Victor Heredia which says "only love can put things right".

I try to make Sundays special, just for Maria Esther and me. We have a lie in. We try to do things around the house: tidying up and each of us sorting out our own things. It's the day the telephone rings the least. And I set about throwing out papers.

Also I iron my shirts - I find it relaxing. I enjoy ironing my own shirts. It's something of an obsession with me, ironing shirts. And as I throw out papers, I switch on the computer and have a look through items related to HIV.


Discrimination here in Argentina is really bad. Prejudice and discrimination, it's the same thing, they go together. And there's a lot of prejudice in Argentina: you've got HIV because you're a druggie, or a homosexual, or just because you don't follow all the rules. Prejudice and hypocrisy abound in our society, it's really bad.

The first time I was taken into hospital, it was really awful, I lost the sight of one eye, and they threw me - that is exactly the word - into a room in the coronary department.

There I was, at a really critical time for my health, my life even, nobody came to clean me up, nobody brought me water, and they put a note on the door saying "Aids" in big letters.

It sometimes as if life is pushing you to the absolute limit.

But I try not to get too gloomy about things that at this stage of my life endanger my spiritual wellbeing. It's a long process though.

Account provided by www.BBCMundo.com, who met David through Fundación Huésped, an Argentinean NGO.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we received:

Brother David, with god nothing is impossible. In touch with my thoughts and I'll keep on praying on you.
Isei, Lautoka, Fiji island

May your life story inspire many more couples who face desperation and frustration over the fate of their life
Shiju Paul svd, Zambia
David - Continue to be a pillar of outstanding courage for millions around the world for they need models of your calibre to see through their own life. It is very inspirational how you keep yourself occupied and determined by engaging in small household responsibilities. May your life story inspire many more couples who face desperation and frustration over the fate of their life. I am sure many will rewrite the destiny of their life having listened you. Praying for you.
Shiju Paul svd, Zambia

It is very upsetting...it makes me literally sad to know that the same medical personnel who have pledged to use their profession to care for people, can be so discriminating, and so cruel. They have more knowledge than the average person, and they know that HIV/AIDS can only be contracted under certain circumstances. So why must they be so harsh and HEARTLESS? These are the places and people that the sick go to for help, care and compassion. Often they are the last resort, as family and friends may desert them. Sometimes there may not be any family and friends to begin with...and when your last hope treats you like you are filthy and worthless, as if you are not human, then it is so easy to lose hope.

I weep for those who are HIV positive. And I cry for this world, which is so cold and cruel. But those like David, who lift their heads and don't give up, make me smile. Hatred and prejudice are terrible, but he is correct: Only love can make things right.
Donna, St. John's, Antigua

We can learn a lot from people like David
Mohammed, Muscat

What an example, it requires courage, willpower and is a continuous struggle, we can learn a lot from people like David.
Mohammed A.S, Muscat, Oman

David, your courage and perseverance is an encouragement for all of us. Please keep it up and do not give up. Live your life positively and do not despair.
Chanda, Lusaka, Zambia

David you've lived 19 years already and I hope God will grant you 19 more. Hang on. You are an inspiration to us. You really taught us that life can be lived to the fullest despite adversity.
Joni Vatuvatu, Suva, Fiji Islands

David I know of a similar story where both partners contracted the virus, one involuntarily through a blood transfusion, the other voluntarily injected herself with the virus because she could not imagine life without her partner. I understand that love and caring go a long way in helping you fight the disease and I hope Maria is by your side forever and always. I admire your courage and I send you my best wishes.
Udayan Nair, Windsor, Canada

Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring us all
Eric, Phoenix

David your message that 'only love can put things right' in the face of prejudice, discrimination and hypocrisy is one that resonates with truth. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring us all.
Eric, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

David. 19 years! Yes, indeed, you are a shining example of courage to those who do not see much purpose in life! I see no bitterness in your account, only a quiet resolve and a true understanding of the value of life. Keep going brother.
Bhavana Padiyath, Fremont, California, USA

David - I wish you only the best. You sound like a courageous person, and I encourage you to enjoy your life to the fullest. Take it easy, and rest assured that complete strangers like myself support you in your struggle against this terrible scourge.
Terry, Miami, Florida, USA

I read your story with great admiration. I think your survival is due to the grace and of god and your loving family. I will like to encourage you. Keep good and my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Joel Stephen, Bedford, UK

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