A Special wedding: Radhakrishnan and Elizabeth
CHENNAI: Every marriage that the Rev. Charles Edwin has solemnised has been special, but the wedding he conducted on Friday was extra special. For it is not every day that he gets to declare two HIV positive people man and wife.
Radhakrishnan and Elizabeth, who exchanged vows in Fr. Edwin’s presence, are both members of the South India Positive Network (SIPN). Radhakrishnan, who is also the Kancheepuram unit co–ordinator of the network, first met his wife at a conference in a city hotel four months ago, and proposed to her a few weeks later. “We need to spend some time together and I want to fulfil all her dreams,” he says.
Radhakrishnan was diagnosed as being HIV positive in January 1995 by his employer in Dubai after a routine medical test. He was immediately deported to India where he spent the next nine years keeping his condition a secret.
It was only a couple of years ago that he found his calling and courage, thanks to the SIPN. He now proudly says that at 34, he is in good health, thanks to anti–retroviral drugs (ARV).
Elizabeth, 27, is also on anti–retroviral drugs. She has been taking them for about a year now, starting four years after she was declared HIV positive, having contacted the infection from her ex–husband. He died eight months ago, leaving Ms. Elizabeth in the care of her large family consisting of seven sisters and a brother, all of whom were present at the marriage ceremony. “My family was so thrilled when he [Radhakrishnan] proposed. They asked me to accept without any delay,” she says.
However, it was only after counselling by the SIPN that they were allowed to go ahead with the wedding. D. Noorie, president of the SIPN, which has helped eight HIV positive couples marry, says, “Today, with appropriate therapy, they can even have a child who is not positive!”
Says Elizabeth emphatically: “We want to live a normal life, have children who are not positive and achieve things in life like others!”