Wanted: Bridegroom, who is HIV positive, for an HIV positive bride. These were the words with which a non-governmental organisation in Tamil Nadu recently started the first ever marriage bureau for HIV positive people.
In the first week since Anbalayam opened its doors in Tiruchy, three bachelors and seven widows have enrolled, while enquiries are pouring in from across the state. “Very soon we will conduct a swayamwaram when members can choose their spouse,” said T.K.S. Senthilkumar, founder of the NGO that has been active in HIV intervention since 1993.
It was after Senthilkumar heard of several cases where young HIV positive widows were thrown out of their homes by their in-laws after the HIV positive husband’s death, that he thought of starting such a bureau
“In some cases they are sexually abused by other men in the family thus spreading the virus. And then they are deserted by the husband’s family and often their own family makes them get into flesh trade which again spreads the disease.”
There are also cases where HIV positive men who hide the fact and get married and pass on the virus to the girl. Senthilkumar realised that such men could be convinced to give a new lease of life to the HIV positive widows. This may be the first attempt to bring together HIV infected couples, he points out.