Against All Odds: HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Indigenous Papuans
Dewi's lifeless body is carried onto the cremation pyre by her uncle.
Dewi (20) was a young wife who died from AIDS after contracting HIV from her husband. Dewi kept her HIV status a secret from her family. Dewi's family, who were unaware of her real illness, used a traditional healing method of cutting parts of her body to let out "dirty" blood in an attempt to cure her. Dewi's body was displayed in her finest clothes as family members and neighbors mourned her death inside her parents' honai. A local NGO, called Caring Hands, has donated money to buy woods for her cremation since Dewi's family was too poor to have her buried. Outside, men cut woods into smaller pieces and stacked them to prepare for her cremation. A pastor led the ceremony and prayed before Dewi's body was place on top of the funeral pyre.
Due to shame and fear of discrimination or punishment, it is common for husbands who are HIV positive to keep their status from their wives or vice versa. Even after testing positive for HIV, many still disregard using condom to avoid drawing suspicion. As a result, the HIV virus is often passed between spouses.