Rashmi, 10, usually starts her day like any child of her age. She readies herself for school, scores remarkably well in her studies and also helps her mother in the kitchen. Only difference is that she has now attained the maturity levels much more than her friends did. She acquired it from the sympathy filled eyes of everyone who knows that she is HIV infected. Like Rashmi many other children and adults ailing from HIV infection has to face similar treatment once they bring their condition in the open.
As the World observes AIDS Day today (December 1 every year) to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic, the city struggles to come off the stigma attached to the disease. Compelling societal thought process still plays major hurdle for the HIV infected people in the city to come out of the self-imposed hibernation and live life as usual. The thought of letting others know about their ailment fills them with lots of apprehensions which are ironically true as far the citizens’ affinity towards the sufferers is concerned.
Between 2011-2015, World AIDS Day has the theme – Getting to Zero which means Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths.
However the battle against AIDS in Nagpur has shown remarkable results on other parameters but the efforts to reach zero discrimination are yet to bear fruits. Unfortunately, AIDS discrimination and stigma also fuel the epidemic. They prevent people from talking about their HIV status with sex partners or people with whom they share needles. Fear of rejection and worries about confidentiality also prevent many from getting tested for HIV. This means they may spread HIV to others without knowing it.
On the occasion of World Aids day, National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and DAPCO Nagpur, organized an awareness rally on November 29, 2013. With over 500 students took part in it, the rally started from the IGGMC Hospital with Morris College Nagpur was the point of culmination. The main objective of this rally was to raise awareness since awareness tool is the excellent means for prevention from HIV/AIDS. This was also show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died of HIV.
However the big question is that how much these rallies and public awareness campaign helped in eliminating the discrimination?
Leading healthy life with HIV
Meanwhile Nagpur Today spoke to some of the HIV positive patients on the health issues, and ART treatment that they have undergone through. M.A Student, Rajeev M said that he is a HIV positive patient, but he is taking his ART medicines regularly and he is fine now. He said that earlier, he was suffering from some allergic conditions due to the ART medicines but later with the proper recommendation and combination of right medicines, he did not face any side effects. He added that his life span has increased.
BSc Student Umesh D said that he is suffering from AIDS since 2 years but Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) helped him a lot. He told that in stage II, when he started taking his ART medicines in beginning, he was suffering from some skin infection problems and body heat problems. He added that later on his body get used to of ART medicines and now he is alright and living a healthy life.
ITI Student Ganesh R. said that he a HIV positive patient. He said he started taking the new ART medicines recently. He said at the beginning his hemoglobin level became very low and he was dealing with various problems like Persistent fever, Extreme fatigue, severe malnutrition, losing weight. Hence, doctors recommended him some medicine and nutrition powder due to which his HB level started increasing and he started recovering to some extent.
Management Student Rahul G. said that he is HIV positive from 3 years. ART medicines helped him a lot to get better now. He said that at the beginning when he started taking ART medicines he dealt with issues like Oral thrush, Headache, Vomiting, lack of hunger etc, but gradually when he started taking his ART medicines regularly, his life span has increased since Antiretroviral combination therapy defends against resistance by suppressing HIV replication as much as possible. He added that one should not afraid of HIV patients as Hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food or water does not transmit HIV. He opined that patients who maintain proper therapy can stay on one regimen without developing resistance
Let’s fight against discrimination
What exactly is AIDS discrimination? It means you are treated differently than other people simply because you are infected with HIV. For example:
– A person denies you access to medical care at a hospital, medical or dental office, skilled nursing facility, or drug treatment center.
– A person denies you child custody or visitation, or the right to adopt or become a foster parent.
– An employer asks unlawful questions on a job application or harasses, fires, or transfers you to a lesser job position.
– A person of authority reveals your HIV status at school, at work, or within a health care institution.
– You are evicted from a rental property.
If you are an HIV infected patient and is dealing with any or all of the above discrimination, fight back to secure your rights.
Report to Nagpur Today at email@example.com and we will take your voice further.