Goodbye, Bluesocksville. Clare looked at the signboard.
The sign read, “Population of Bluesockville: 942”
They would probably minus one to the total, Clare thought.
If only Clare knew. Then they would probably also add another line that said, “Number in Bluesockville contracted HIV AIDS: 76, and increasing.”
Clare turned to the male passenger who had been sitting beside her since the bus left. Her mind had been occupied since she had slumped into the window seat and had not noticed that he was a so good looking.
Clare smiled and returned the greeting.
“Got a job at the city and moving away, huh?” he said.
“Not really,” Clare said. “I’ll look for a job and place to stay when I get there.”
“I’ve just rented a place,” he said, “I have a spare room. Why don’t you bunk in with me first?”
“That’s very nice of you,” Clare smiled.
They introduced themselves and soon, as Bluesocksville shrunk farther and farther behind, so did her miseries.
Time to start a new life.
Time for the HIV to make a new head count.
And yes, the HIV started a new line of infection, beginning with the man who offered Clare a room to stay. He was handsome, and had many girlfriends.
He gave all of them HIV.
A year later, Joshua wrote Clare a letter. He was going to marry Angela and asked if Clare could attend the wedding.
Clare did not want to return to Bluesocksville for whatever reasons.
Joshua also mentioned that her sister Amy had another boyfriend, a banker from another back. They were quite an item.
Who cares? Clare thought angrily.
Joshua had also bumped into Jerry, Clare’s neighbour who lived opposite Amy. He was going with a girl, and they were walking hand in hand, madly in love.
Who cares? Selfish Nerdy Jerry.
The population of Bluesockvilles stayed at around 942, but the number who contracted continued to increase.
It was only two years later that the first official HIV case was recorded in Bluesocksville. That ignited a panic that sent some residents queuing up to be tested. Most of these did not contract the HIV. Only 4 out of these 200 were found to be HIV positive.
Another 56 got their tests at private clinics. Of these, 44 were tested HIV positive.
There were still many who did not bother to go for a test. They did not feel it was necessary. Neither did they think they had AIDS.
The last official count of people who had AIDS in Bluesocksville was 67. Officials said this was just the tip of the iceberg.
They were right. By that time, more than 200 people in Bluesocksville had contracted HIV AIDS. That’s more than twenty percent of the population.
Officials urged those who had unprotected sex with more than one partners to go for the HIV tests. They also urged people to use condoms as a precaution to prevent further infections.
Or better still, stay faithful to one partner.
– END –