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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 12:06 GMT
'Nothing matters when you are dying'
As part of a BBC series on Aids, people living with HIV from around the world tell their own stories in their own words.

Amir Reza, an Iranian who contracted Aids through transfusions for a blood disorder, describes the contrasting reactions he receives when he reveals he has the virus.

Amir Reza
Amir says he has no hard feelings towards his doctors
I was born with Thalassemia Major, a condition which leads to anaemia, in 1971.

I went for an HIV test at a special medical centre for Thalassemic patients in Zafar Avenue, in an affluent part of northern Tehran.

This was in 1997 when HIV test for Thalassemic patients became mandatory in Iran.

I did not receive the result of the tests for two years. After two years of not knowing what was so terribly wrong that was making me feel so poorly, I was hospitalised in 1999.

Badly informed

After three months of going back and forth to the hospital, the doctors told me to go home and die in peace. I had no hard feelings.

Nothing really matters when you are dying. You simply do not care about what's happened. I had no problems with my family. They are cultured people.

As soon as I mentioned that I had Aids the taxi driver pulled over and told me to get out
At the time I was emotionally involved with a woman, but I ended the relationship when things became too complicated because of my illness.

I thought if I was her parent I would have never given my consent for her to marry someone with HIV.

Iranians are not very well read about HIV and Aids.

A couple of times I talked openly about Aids on public transport just to see what kind of reaction I might get.

Once, as soon as I mentioned that I had Aids the taxi driver pulled over and told me to get out.

Another taxi driver thought I was joking, but after half an hour of explaining he seemed convinced and had no problem.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we received:

Amir should be congratulated on these issues because not all are ready to reveal their status. He is strong and I sympathise with him.
Joyce Lugakingira, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Amir, I must admit that I was moved by your story. Ignorance involving HIV is amazingly wide, especially in certain countries, where it is called the dirty disease and the people think that it only affects cursed people. People need to be educated and informed about this disease and how it spreads and effects the population of any nation.
Mohamed Mussa, Manchester, UK

Amir, I am moved by your story, and most of all by your strength. I can see from your story that you have to deal with discrimination based on ignorance. I hope you count with the important support of your family. I shall keep you in my prayers.
Sofia, Argentina

Like so many struggling with this reality, I respect the courage of Amir.
Ashley, Sumter, South Carolina

It is very difficult to live with HIV in this world
It is very difficult to live with HIV in this world. I will request to people who are with HIV try to protect others and also to healthy persons they should take care of HIV patients physically and morally.

It is important to note that Amir is a human being and deserve to be taken care of just like any other human being in need of medical care. As long as he is living among us he needs our love, understanding and help just like any other Aids patient. I say to him please do not give up.
Hesam, NC, USA

Amir Reza, good for you for coming forward and talking about this terrible disease in a part of the world where it is not accepted. This is a serious problem occurring in Iran, along with all the other problems that exist. Proper education is key and yes, there needs to be a organization to preach about this. The government cannot sweep this problem under the carpet for too long. They need to confront it or else it will get out of hand. Amir Reza, never give up hope and keep strong.
Mohammad, Sacramento, United States

Do not worry God is with you and God bless you. Do not worry and do not give up hope at least your family and friends are with you . even we all are with you take care. I hope you feel better
Imran Ayub, Lahore Pakistan

Breaking the stigma in a very conservative world allows many more to break the chains of shame and fear
Shiju Paul svd, Zambia
Loving Amir Reza - You are a courageous witness to a world with small hearts. Breaking the stigma in a very conservative world allows many more to break the chains of shame and fear. I just feel your pain. I accompany you in the steps of your life. Walk courageously and fearlessly. You continue to light the hearts of many.
Shiju Paul svd, Zambia

As you can see, I live in Tehran just like Amir. Iran does not talk about Aids. Officially they do not have it. I do not know much about Aids, but I do know that you can't get it from sitting next to a person in a taxi. And with regard to Amir, I just do wonder whether there are no HIV aids drugs in this country? I work in charity myself, and it seems that this country needs Aids support groups, but who has the courage to initiate this?
Anna, Tehran, Iran

I feel very sorry for him, I am sick with a non-infectious non-terminal disease, I could relate to how he feels. I think the best of this is that it will speed up the understanding and sympathy for HIV infections in Iran and demystify this sooner rather than later, like the use of Internet for both information and education. I could only hope that Amir would be one the lucky ones that live long enough for the cure of HIV to arrive.
Wallis Lamb, Australia

We need to discuss people understanding
John Leno, Amman

Its a shame that in so called westernized countries like Jordan and Egypt people with Aids gets quarantined. Nobody understands it and most of the people don't know how to deal with infected people. Most of time they just add suffering to them by isolating them from the community. Before we discuss medication we need to discuss people understanding.
John Leno, Amman , Jordan

The comments of Amir Reza about his life with HIV point out one of the biggest problems faced by HIV/Aids patients in the world today. There is simply too much stigma around the issue to allow for effective treatment and prevention of disease. If we are to defeat this terrible and debilitating virus there must be a massive effort made to relax the stigma involved with being tested and going public as a carrier. If this barrier of fear and stigma is surpassed we can truly begin to effect change and care in the lives of those who are suffering the most.
David Beversluis, Grand Rapids, United States

Amir is a brave man
Israr Khan, Vancouver

I think Amir is a brave man. The worst thing that happened to him is that he has HIV in a country where every one thinks that you are a sinner if you have HIV. I think Amir will need a lot of will power and great courage to deal with this problem. InshAllah he will do it, and will set up an example of others will this problem.
Israr Khan, Vancouver Canada/Pakistan

The ignorance about Aids and other diseases is serious concern in a country with 70 million populations. The theocratic government has kept people in darkness when it comes to STD and other. The whole problem with regards to Aids and other epidemics in Iran is no one to blame but just the government. A country that makes billion in oil revenues but its people is still living in primitive stages. My heart goes with "Amir Reza", you are a strong man, and may be by coming forward you have opened the eyes of others. Thank you my friend and country man.
Cyrus Irani, Tehran, Iran

Iranians are very private about these issues because they are deemed disgraceful and humiliating for a person and his family. Unfortunately this leads to a lot of underground behaviour that is not monitored.
Baz, London, UK


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