My name is Nodari. I’m a 34 year old man living in Tbilisi, the capital and largest city of Georgia. Two years ago I got married, and I’m looking forward to have a baby. At the moment, I don’t have a paid job. This means that I’ve more time to do voluntary work for Real People – Real Vision, an organisation that stimulates positive changes for HIV affected persons. In my country, people living with HIV often hide their status. Many people still think that HIV kills, and those living with it are treated as dropouts here.
I’m living with HIV myself. Within my family, I’ve never had any problem with talking about this. One of my relatives for many years has been involved in working with key populations. She played a key role in informing and supporting my family and me. Nevertheless, I don’t easily open my status outside my comfort zone, because I’ve heard so many negative things. I try to avoid the feeling that people want to get rid of me, even though I know that their attitude is generally due to lack of knowledge, not due to bad intentions. Because of discriminative attitudes, many people living with HIV don’t speak up and are reluctant to get involved in advocacy work. But, in this way, the cycle will never be broken!
My dream is that we live until old age and remain healthy
My organisation Real People – Real Vision raises awareness and informs decision makers about the challenges that people who live with HIV face. We work on creating favourable conditions for people living with HIV, defending their rights, and their integration in society. I also give support at the individual level, for instance, to young persons who just got to know that they are living with HIV. I assist them to overcome the first shock, and to find solutions for their challenges. I’m quite satisfied with the HIV treatment provision programme in Georgia. Most of the time, there are enough medicines in stock. But I’m worried that the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria will leave the country, because then there might be gaps in the provision of drugs. Hopefully the state will take responsibility. When I started HIV treatment myself, during the first three months I had nightmares and breathing problems. But these side effects disappeared as soon as I took another combination of drugs. I want to get more detailed information about HIV treatment, to be able to adequately inform others.
I have learned so many things at our organisation: how to lead self-support groups, contact media representatives, and do advocacy and lobbying work. I’m very proud of our volunteering work, the attitude of my colleagues to one another, how we approach and support each beneficiary – all this is really inspiring. My dream for people living with HIV, including myself, is that we live until old age, that we remain healthy, and can have healthy children. My wish is that, one day, people with HIV no longer have to hide their status and can just speak up!