Bangalore, Dec 1: World AIDS Day, observed on Dec 1 every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), prevalent over a whole country or the world, caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Nearly, 2.3 million people in India are HIV positive. Victims tell that along with the disease they are also fighting stigma attached with HIV/AIDS. "To fight against the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS is the toughest thing for us," says M Kumar (name changed), a resident of Bangalore, who is HIV positive for the last three years.
Similarly, Padma K (name changed), a Chennai-based engineer says that she has not revealed that she is HIV positive to her colleagues in the office. "I don't know how people would react after knowing that I have HIV/AIDS? So, I have concealed my status," said Padma (27).
Similarly, Sushma a Bangalore-based grandmother fought all kinds of stigma to raise her granddaughter who is infected with HIV. Sushma gave up everything, including the fear of alienation, to raise an HIV positive Gargi. Sushma not only made sure that her grandchild gets education but also a life despite being infected by the virus handed down by her parents. Sushma's hard work and sacrifice have not gone in vain.
Today, Gargi is not only employed as an executive in a Bangalore LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) and earning Rs 11,000 per month but also takes care of her grandmother and the entire household. "She has sacrificed everything for me. Not only did she toiled day and night to finance my education, food and clothing, but endured all kinds of discrimination. Now, it's my turn," says Gargi.
The six high-prevalence states of India are Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland. About 1.48 lakh people died of AIDS-related causes in India last year. Deaths among HIV infected children account for 7 per cent of all AIDS-related deaths.