My name is Jhon Matius, originally from tanah toraja. I am 41 years old. I am HIV positive.

 

 
 

I learned that I was HIV positive in 2007.  My health dropped to the point I lost the will to live.  I had no self-confidence and I was terrified that my neighbors and family members would find out that I was HIV positive.  I stayed in isolation by locking myself inside the house away from the public because I was petrified of being quarantined or getting kicked out from my community.

 

 
 

 

But one by one I approached my family member and told them my status.  They told me to be patient and not to lose hope despite the tribulation I was going through. Their encouragement was incredible and unexpected.

 

 
 
A photo of Pak Jhon at a family function before making full recovery.

A photo of Pak Jhon at a family function before making full recovery.

 
 

I also received continuous care and support from Nurse Diana who often checked up on me and frequently took me to the hospital for treatment.  She was exceptionally supportive and she told me there is ARV (Antiretroviral medicine) available and I just need to have the desire to take it.

 

 

"if i were a battery, i would be drained. but arv re-nergizes me and keeps me healthy."

 
A portrait of Pak Jhon; a devoted husband, a loving father, an entrepreneur.

A portrait of Pak Jhon; a devoted husband, a loving father, an entrepreneur.

 

For the past seven years I have been taking ARV every day at 7 o’clock in the morning and at night. ARV improves my health because it acts as a recharge to my body.  If I were a battery, I would be drained.  Before I spent my entire savings to buy herbal medicine that promised a cure but only ARV re-energizes me and keeps me healthy.
 
I am hard worker but as someone who is HIV positive I needed to find a way where I could earn money to survive in this city. Then I came up with an idea of starting a pigpen to make a living.  To start my business, in the beginning I borrowed money from my neighbor to buy piglets. After they matured and gave offspring, I sold the litter and returned the money.  I have been expanding my business for over seven years.

 

 
 

 

I usually wake up around 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning to clean the pigpen. After feeding my pigs, I would look for their food for the following day.  I also have to maintain clean surroundings so it doesn’t become a nuisance to my neighbors.  I don’t want them to smell a bad odor so I clean a minimum of five times a day.

 

 
 

"MY HUSBAND IS THE SOLE PROVIDER FOR THIS FAMILY.
I ADMIRE HIM SO MUCH BECAUSE ALTHOUGH HE IS HIV POSITIVE,
HE WORKS HARD SO HIS SON CAN GO TO SCHOOL."

- Pak Jhon's Wife


 
 
A portrait of Pak Jhon with his son and wife.

A portrait of Pak Jhon with his son and wife.

 

I often get invited by churches to give a testimony about HIV. Since stigma and discrimination against HIV continues to rise in the public I have to fight back by sharing my experience as someone living with HIV who is healthy.

 

 
A portrait of Pak Jhon before making a testimony at church.

A portrait of Pak Jhon before making a testimony at church.

 

I will never give up and I hope in the future that more people will find the courage to come forward and prove that HIV is not a danger to the public.