This was his second testimony given at the ILO’s HIV and AIDS advocacy activity. He previously shared his condition and life journey in December 2018 before 80 high-level staff of Angkasa Pura II, a state-owned company engaged in airport services of 14 airports in Western part of Indonesia.
Fighting the stigma and discriminationAfter being diagnosed with HIV two years ago, Ari has been active in giving testimonies. He wants to contribute in the fight against stigma and discrimination against people with HIV. “It is common too for me to see stunned and shocked expressions from the audiences when they learn about my condition. I am HIV positive, but I am fit and healthy. I am also a productive worker,” he shared his story.
People does not care for and support people with HIV because they do not know. People with HIV can work productively, be beneficial to the company and give positive contributions to their family and the society."
He learnt about his HIV status after continuously being sick for two months. Even after looking for a treatment, he continued to have fever and inflammation for a longer time. Curious, he googled his condition and the indication shown was the possibility of HIV positive. To make sure, he voluntarily took a test and the result came out positive.
“I was so shocked and it was like a death sentence. I was crushed and I did not know what to do. I thought about my job that I has just started, my future, my family and other million things that crossed my mind. I could not sleep for a month,” Ari recalled his restless life at that time.
Yet, after meeting with some HIV counselors, he started learning about the real facts of HIV. He learnt that HIV is a treatable. He also learnt that people with HIV can still be productive and the treatments are accessible at many medical services. He started to accept his condition.
Revealing his statusAfter a few months, he decided to inform his supervisor about his condition. “I got up the courage to come out of the closet and told my supervisor. He was astounded at the beginning, but was surprisingly supportive. I could keep going with my regular responsibility at quality control without any discriminatory actions. He maintained the confidentiality of my status and even diligently reminded me to take my medication on time,” said Ari.
I decided to disclosure my HIV status voluntarily to my fellow workers because our work mostly were field works and we needed to support one another. When opening up my HIV status, I also educated them at the same time so that they did not misunderstand my status and condition. As a result, they received me with open arms and they even cared for me."
“I decided to disclosure my HIV status voluntarily to my fellow workers because our work mostly were field works and we needed to support one another. When opening up my HIV status, I also educated them at the same time so that they did not misunderstand my status and condition. As a result, they received me with open arms and they even cared for me,” Ari shared.
Getting all the supports that he needed at work, he then decided to open his status to his family. He first talked to his siblings and his father. “They are shocked but they can accept me as I am. Two months later, I finally found my courage to tell my mother. She cried and cried. Yet, she is now my biggest supporter. She even took a test for herself,” he uttered with a smile.
Lending a hand to othersDespite of his HIV status, Ari determines to live his life to the fullest. In addition to diligently share information related HIV through his testimonies, he is also active in an HIV organization as an activist. Together with his team, they help people with HIV who live far away from their families.
Thus, we help friends with HIV who have no support system so that they know that they are not alone and that there is always hope."