It’s not a surprise for Sarah to see places in lockdown, empty streets, people caving in their houses. Her whole world revolves around going places to places, as she’s a war journalist covering the middle east crisis for news outlets. But this time the lockdowns are not due to some uprising or fire from the opposite sides. This time it’s because of a virus, COVID-19 or Coronavirus disease. This reminded her of the first time she heard about it.
Sarah was visiting her home country South Africa after finishing an assignment when she met Peterson. They both landed the same day after finishing their assignments and saw each other waiting for taxis. Peterson was a journalist working in Zambia. Sarah knew Peterson from doing a work together years before.
Thought about taking some heat off they both hit the bar before going home. At the bar, they shared their recent coverages, stories from different continents. They had an amazing time, and she invited Peterson to her house, they had sex.
The next day she returned to her list to do things before leaving for another assignment.
Sarah always goes through routine health checkups after coming from overseas. After a few days of rest, she went to the hospital for the check-up and waited few days for the results to come. Enjoying the long-waited vacation, Cape Town is a beautiful place and living in the sun-kissed Camps Bay is one of the greatest perks of her life.
Sarah went to hospital; the test results came out. But this time something unusual. The results show, she’s HIV positive. It came as an unpleasant surprise. After the medical board went through and asked her about recent contacts, blood transfers or any sexual intercrosses it was narrowed down to Peterson. After having told him about the test results, he too then underwent the test and came HIV positive.
Sarah and Peterson grab a couple of beers and went to the beach. She asked if he had unprotected sex in Zambia, Peterson confirmed it. Taking sips of their beer and recently finding about the heavy burden they are carrying, they remained speechless gazing into the distant sun over the endless sea. Both of them are hardened by their profession and years of experience, surviving, escaping and living through near-death moments. Sarah finally breaks the silence and trying to distract she asks, hey did you heard about the recent virus outbreak in China? Seeing a lot of posts about it, they are calling it Coronavirus. Peterson says he saw some too, and its spreading very fast. Hearing this from Peterson, Sarah couldn’t hold her laugh seeing the irony. Peterson too starts laughing. They spent the night on the beach.
After consulting with a board of doctors, Sarah was prescribed medicines for the initial stage of HIV and the doctors told her to be cautious about it. So, it doesn’t happen like it did with Peterson, since now she’s the one carrying the virus. She does have sufficient financial support. More than a decade of successful war journalism career did earn her quite a lot of money. It won’t be a problem for her to continue the treatment despite the high prices of the medications.
In the midst of her assignments she starts seeing lockdowns in various places. She prepares to go out to do her work despite the lockdowns, she has seen lockdowns countless times in this region through the years. Even though she’s fully aware that HIV has weakened her immune system and COVID-19 could be fatal to her. She remembers the moment she had with Peterson on the beach. A smile appears in her face. Sarah sets out for the war-torn region.