Infectious disease

The stark contrast between am and pm.

Situated adjacent to the plastics outpatients, and the fully private "well being" clinic. Lush, soothing, natural colours, pleasant lighting, soft courches and pot plants. Clean toilets. Well dressed young professionals from the ministry of foreign affairs, travelling from Africa, to South America, to SE Asia, and more. Members of parliament who without speaking a word seem to convey, I'm special, don't you know who I am? And a modern day rich man's wife, with an air of superiority, but a silly blond giggle. A huge sparkling ring, perfectly crafted make up upon her aging features, telling us about the nearly thirty porters she will hire for herself and her husband on their upcoming adventure trip.

The secluded clinic, in a building far from the main hospital. An old building, no airconditioning in the waiting room, open wooden windows with faded paint, tired looking plastic chairs. Sit back, don't sit too close to the patient, don't ask them how they contracted it, were the instructions. Men who lived alone, patients who dressed casually, avoided avoided disclosing their diagnosis to even their GP, those who suspiciously asked for bottles and bottles of cough mixture, who were on the methadone program, intravenous drug users (goodness knows how in this place, with campaigns such as the recent posters to party clean - with death and caning cited as some of the consequences for taking drugs). Actually, often you wouldn't be able to tell. The young man with trendy clothes and gelled hair, an average looking couple attending a dual consult, a grandma in a wheelchair.

The closed body language, the dodging of eye contact, the reluctance of acknowledging a smile and nod. Hey, relax, it doesn't bother me, I'm not judging you, and obviously it doesn't bother the doctor either, they take care of patients with this condition every single day. Home is good in a way. I don't embrace or encourage the "lifestyle", but as a country we probably do better to include these individuals as equals, rather than scums, lower class citizens. As sinners, we all need grace. Who are we to say that our sins are minor and acceptable, whilst theirs is shameful and immoral?



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