HIV positive, lives a positive life!

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{image-world aids day_29062008.jpg}Panaji, Jun 29: HIV positive 25-year-old Shabnam Khan thought life came to an end after she lost her husband in 2004 and acquired the virus in Goa. But it was not so as the lean and lanky girl got married yet another positive man in 2006 to prove that the real life starts now.

She does not lose courage at anytime. The strong survival instinct in her, made her, become a counsellor with an NGO-Zindagi-that provides support to many women of her ilk. In fact, hers was the first marriage in Goa between two HIV positive people. As many as a dozen others followed the suit. Ms Aarthi Gupta (28), another victim who lost her husband and a daughter with the same malady in 2002-03, is no exception. She had married yet another HIV positive man to show the society how they could live a happy and contented life like a normal couple.

She supports the fellow victims, NGO's in the mission and the government at the Goa Medical College and Hospital where the authorities had set up an ''Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) unit in 2005.

Similar was the case of Ms Asha (40), being a HIV positive patient for the last seven years with two children, provides another example of courage and conviction to survive.

She and one of her daughters, had been on multi-drug therapy at the ART centre. As Zindagiu's peer counsellor, she became a role model for other victims enthusing them to live the life with gusto.

The trio, along with other HIV positive patients, broke the blues syndrome and started exhibiting extraordinarily unflinching survival instinct every movement.

''We approach the fellow patients and instil courage narrating their own examples, kindling a strong desire to live the remaining life with a smile, not grin, in the cruel society,'' they told the sources.

At the same time, they profusely thank the media for guiding them when they were groping in darkness after they found their blood contaminated with the virus for which there is no assured treatment.

''The media should continue to play a big role in educating and guiding the masses on various aspects of the HIV and AIDS to benefit the victims most of who hitherto grope in darkness,'' they said with one voice.

Babu (43), with a wife and two sons, provides yet another example of hope. The desire for life brought about a sea change in his physical parametres as she left smoking and started undergoing ART treatment in the GMC. Joining him in chorus was Godfree (45) who had improved a lot as his family members started taking care with love and affection despite being HIV-stricken.

He pleads for providing the patients with ''nutritious food'' which could help bring about a dramatic improvement in health of the victims.

Godfree had even urged the government to supply the HIV positive patients with nutritious food along with ART therapy for rapid improvement.

Ms Supriya, a counsellor at the GMC, asks the people to approach the nearest ''Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre'' for a check up of their blood so that more precautionary measures could be taken before the virus turns into deadly AIDS.

Dr Wanda Vegas attached with the ART centre, says more sub-centres were to be opened in Goa to facilitate the HIV positive patients.

The number of people availing of the facility was on rise every year including pregnant women and affected children.

Dr Pradeep Padwal, project director, Goa State AIDS Control Society, pleads with pregnant women for voluntarily undergoing blood tests for ''prevention of patient to child transmission.'' Goa had been witnessing birth of about 25,000 children every year, but testing of pregnant women was done in case of 3,000 only.

As many as 50 per cent of the deliveries had been done in private hospitals where screening for HIV was not done on a regular basis like in the government hospitals.

This he said could be avoided if a public-private-partnership mode was arrived at so that parent to child transmission could be assessed and eliminated.

The Bangalore-based Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS, who in collaboration with the Centre for Advocary and Research, had brought these people on to one platform recently to educate the media in Goa on various aspects of the malady.

But, strangely, the media response was lukewarm even as the participants pleaded with the media for inflinching campaign against HIV/AIDS to help rekindle the survival instinct among the victims.


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