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Living with HIV

The Missing Face of AIDS

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By Shelley Seale
Yesu Babu of Vambay Colony in Vijayawada is 12. He has lost both his parents to AIDS. His younger brother is positive. There are almost 2 million AIDS orphans like him in India. But the national and global response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in India has virtually ignored children
Durgamma outside her house in Vambay Colony Durgamma outside her house in Vambay Colony
Imagine you are a 12–year–old boy. You live in India, on the outskirts of a town called Vijayawada. Your name is Yesu Babu.

Your home is a tiny two–room concrete block, approximately 200 square feet, in a slum known as the Vambay Colony. Imagine that you share this small home with your grandmother, Durgamma, and your 9–year–old brother. You live with your grandmother because your parents died of AIDS – first your father, who brought the infection home, in 2001, then your mother in 2004. There was no one left to take care of you and your brother except your elderly grandmother, who never expected to be raising two more children at this age.

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What has Changed for People Living with HIV?

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By Ranjita Biswas
Many experts feel that it’s time we moved beyond HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and began seriously tackling the practical considerations of getting medicines to patients. Awareness is important, but it’s useless if we cannot provide the medicines.

It’s been 21 years since India’s first HIV cases were diagnosed among sex workers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in 1986. And exactly two decades since the National AIDS Control Programme, now NACO, was launched. Since then, India has been in the news for its rising HIV/AIDS graph, although NACO has hotly debated the number (5.4 million) projected by international agencies. This year, 2007, using a more effective surveillance system, UNAIDS and NACO agreed on a new estimate – there are between 2 million and 3.6 million people living with HIV in India, placing the country behind South Africa and Nigeria.

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Zarina: 'We Need More than Information'

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By Manjima Bhattacharjya
Zarina is just one of thousands of HIV–positive people caught between a government that cannot provide care and treatment to all, a private sector that is expensive and swarming with quacks, and NGOs that are driven by their own agendas.

Zarina is one amongst the thousands around us who are silently living with HIV. One of the many milling around us in malls window–shopping on a day out, rushing past us in railway stations to get home in time to cook for the family, or bargaining with the vegetable vendor while buying supplies for the week. Ordinary people living ordinary lives, and taking their HIV–positive status in their stride.

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Voices of Vulnerable Women

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Walabai battled despair and discrimination after her husband died of AIDS and she was found to be HIV–positive. But she learnt to cope: “I would like to tell all persons who are positive that they must live well and not get depressed.”
My name is Walabai and my original village was near Chandoli in Shirala taluka of Sangli district. My parents were agricultural labourers. They had to move because the site was chosen for the construction of a dam. They were allotted land in Kurlup village in Walwa taluka where I was born. We were four of us in the family, two sisters and my parents.

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“I am Afraid, how do I Break the News?”

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By Anjulika Thingnam
Twenty–year–old Ibungo cannot tell his parents or his partners that he has HIV because in Manipur, as in the rest of India, men who have sex with men are liable to be clapped up in jail.

His fingers interlocked and opened in rapid succession, reflecting the turmoil in him. “My parents will be devastated when they know about this. I don’t know what to do. Maybe it would be better if I die,” he says.

It has been six months since 20–year–old Ibungo (not his real name) came to know he is HIV–positive, and his inability to talk to his parents about it troubles him.

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