Against All Odds: HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Indigenous Papuans
Gary takes a shower as he prepares to go to school.
Gary is 11 years old and he is HIV-positive. Gary lost both of his parents to AIDS and he has been taking ARV regularly since the age of four. Currently, Gary lives with his grandmother and younger cousin. To support her grandchildren, Gary's grandmother sells betel nut in front of the house earning $2-3 per day. Due to her meager income Gary's grandmother is unable to buy wholesome and nutritious food and vitamins to help maintain his health and growth. Last year the Department of Social Services had to suddenly stop providing milk for Gary. Fortunately, Sorong Sehati, a local community group in Sorong financed by Yayasan San Agustino (YSA), came to the rescue and regularly provides Gary with bread, milk, and monetary assistance to pay for his schooling and transportation to the clinic for check-ups and ARV refills. At one point, Gary experienced discrimination at school when his teacher forced him to sit in the back to isolate him from the other students. Sorong Sehati intervened by providing HIV/AIDS education to the schools' faculty including Gary's teacher. Now Gary sits in the front of the class and he hopes to be a doctor one day so he can help people like him.