I have never sat through SUN TV’s Thanga Vettai programme. The affected tone of the hostess, the incredibly easy questions and the naiveté of the participants have always irritated me. Even in my wildest dreams I had never expected to shed tears watching this irritating programme. It happened today, <st1:date year="2006" day="14" month="5">14<sup>th</sup> May, 2006</st1:date>. I was about to switch off the TV when the hostess Ms.Ramya Krishnan announced that all the participants of the day were positive people. This perked my curiousity and I took my hands off the remote. I had the shock of my life when she continued “Yes all are HIV positive.” When the teams walked into the stage to the accompaniment of the usual lead music I was stunned. Ten people living in the shadow of death, dressed in their finest clothes and wearing a smile – appeared deathly to me – took their places and started introducing themselves. No society looks upon HIV and AIDS patients with sympathy. A cancer patient or a stroke patient is a different story. They win our hearts easily and when their picture appears in newspapers with an appeal for donation to cover their surgery or medical expenses, the response is quite good. But no HIV patient can hope to get a similar treatment. HIV patients are shunned first because there is an irrational fear that the dreaded disease might be contagious. And secondly because we all tend to think that these people somehow deserve this punishment because they were immoral, because they could not resist their temptation for sex. It is easy to take a high moral stand and condemn these people. But when you see a girl studying in 5<sup>th</sup> standard saying with a big smile on her face that she had been diagnosed as HIV positive 11 years back and that her father had succumbed to the disease a few years ago and her mother is also HIV positive, well if our hearts do not bleed for her, I doubt its very existence in us. A woman in her thirties says that she got that HIV as a gift from her truck driver husband who died several years ago due to AIDS. Never in my life was I in the grip of so much of impotent anger. But anger against whom? God? The Virus? Medical profession? The Government? Her husband who went astray and ruined the whole family? Or the society which gave an occupation to him that necessitated long periods of absence and eventually paved the way for the disease? OK, you will all sympathise with that girl and the woman who for no fault of theirs, got the deadly virus. But it is very hard to have any feelings for the truck driver who was the prime mover in transmitting the disease to his family. But let’s think. By God’s grace we all have comfortable lives. We are with the family most of the time. Even when we travel we do so in comfort and style. Barring some unfortunate exceptions amongst us, food and sex is available to us, as if on tap. But look at the truck driver’s life.