Stickman Readers' Submissions July 6th, 2011


Luna passed away this week.

In fact, passing away is a much too soft word to describe her dead. I don't know of any English words that would accurately describe her wretched death. The only word that comes to my mind is the French word "crever", coined in the trenches of WW1.

He Clinic Bangkok

Luna was my young sister. Not my biological sister but my no'ng sau, my close friend.

I first met her 3 years ago when I was dating her cousin for a few months. We remained close friends long after I broke up with her cousin but were never intimate.

Luna was from a solid middle-class background. Her grandfather was a trader in Ayuthaya and her mother owned a few shops, restaurants and land in the same province. They were, by no means hi-so but well enough off to afford her a degree in business from Thammasat and a further year in the UK to perfect her English. Luna had a very decent job for one of the largest foreign banks in Thailand and, at 31 years old had paid off her condo on Ekamai and her Honda Jazz.

CBD bangkok

Luna was as far removed from the red-light scene in Bangkok as you possibly can be, although we all went once to Soi Cowboy, which she found appalling.

Luna was hard working during the day and hard partying during the weekend. Since her year in the UK, Luna liked Farangs. Not the lower Sukhumvit sort of Farangs but the Thonglor / Ekamai sort of well healed 30-something expats.

One night Luna met a nice looking, fun German guy in Demo. After a night of partying they went home to her place. They had sex. They did not use a condom. He came inside her. She did not worry too much as she was on the pill.

She never felt the need to have a medical check-up as she was feeling fine and was working out 2 or 3 times a week, until the end of last year when she often fell sick. Most of the time she would just take a bunch of antibiotics, rest, and be better after a couple of days. In February this year she finally went to have a check-up in one of Bangkok's luxurious private hospitals, all expenses covered by her employer's insurance.

wonderland clinic

The doctors came back with a death sentence.

Luna had AIDS, and the virus had started to attack her brain (meningitis) and lungs (pneumonia).

The verdict was without appeal. The sickness was much too advanced to start a tri-therapy. After an initial spell in hospital she was able to go home for a few days but the sickness advanced without pity. Soon, she had to return to the hospital but after a while she had exhausted her insurance coverage. Then her savings were gone, soon after that those of her mother. In May they had no other opinion but to transfer her to a public 30-baht a day hospital. However there were plenty of extra costs not covered by those famous 30 baht and soon they moved her from her private room to a dying ward of 35 people. Of course, she was much too ashamed to tell any of us anything although by that time we were really starting to wonder what was going on.

When she finally told me she had less than a month to live. From there on she was wasting away rather quickly, falling in and out of consciousness. In a matter of months she had gone from a healthy 50-someting kilos to less than 35. At the end, we thanked the Lord that he ended her suffering.

She begged me not to tell anybody about the origins of her sickness and until today her co-workers and most of her friends believe that she fell victim to severe meningitis. That's why I choose a pseudonym for her.

During the course of the last months I did some internet research on HIV in Thailand and spoke to a health professionals and social workers. Their consensus is that about 5% of the general population in Bangkok is infected and that most do not even know it. That's one in twenty persons! Think about that: 1 to 2 person in every bus. Up to 10 in every skytrain.

Think about that next time you meet somebody. I certainly will!

Stickman's thoughts:

This is very sad. I am sorry to hear of the loss of your friend.

I don't wish to pick apart your submission, but if she was a party girl, it seems a stretch that she could isolate exactly the person who transmitted HIV to her. Of course, if he was the only guy she had unprotected sex with and she never used needles nor had a blood transfusion, then it could well be him.

As for the claims of 5% of Bangkok residents being HIV+, I very, very much doubt it. I know of the odd naughty bar which has had the girls tested properly and those found to be HIV+ – or even carrying any STDs – are surprisingly small in number. Further, these annual company health checks are common and you VERY seldom hear of anyone being HIV. 1%? Perhaps. 5%? Nah, I don't think so.

nana plaza