Gopal Shrestha, 56, ex-national football player and a Person Living with HIV (PLHIV) is all set for his mission – to summit Mt. Everest. Besides being an attempt to eradicate the social stigma associated with HIV, Mr. Shrestha also wishes to send a strong message to other sufferers – that HIV infection does not necessarily mean the end of the world.
His campaign, Step-up Campaign – Victory against discrimination aims at raising awareness in the society, community and country about HIV, provide quality education to children affected with HIV, and convey a positive message against discrimination.
Shrestha, currently a Yoga trainer leads a very healthy and active lifestyle. He has been fighting the infection since 25 years. Former national footballer and a drug user himself, Shrestha is an activist – he helps raise awareness about drug addiction and fights to end discrimination against PLHIVs.
This is Shrestha’s second attempt to climb Everest – his first expedition ended in a tragedy after the April, 2015 earthquake killed five of his friends at Everest Base Camp. He himself had sustained injuries and had to be air-lifted from the camp.
“But, I have regained hopes and decided to climb the mountain for the second time,” he said. He will leave for Mt. Everest on 12 April. The 2019 expedition will also be a personal feat for Mr. Shrestha – when atop Everest, he will be the first Person Living with HIV to have done so.
Shrestha has already climbed Island Peak (6189 m) in 2014 and Virgin Peak/Khang Karpo (6646 m) in 2016.