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Battling AIDS prejudice through poems

india Updated: Nov 22, 2006 20:27 IST

Poems written by a young Indian AIDS patient describing the shame and fear he felt after being diagnosed with the disease have been recorded by a top pop band to help tackle the prejudice sufferers face.

In his poems, 26-year-old Ricky Tombing, from the northeastern state of Manipur, gives an insight into the anguish he battles, fearing his friends and family would stop loving him.

They have now become the inspiration for a leading music album dedicated to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

"While everyone is moving ahead, I'm fighting a war of mine. It's a war that will last forever. And you can never win," Tombing writes.

A drug user, Tombing was infected with HIV after sharing the same needle with friends, his cousin Shelly Tombing said.

Now leading Indian group Euphoria -- hugely popular among young Indians across the country for their blend of traditional folk and contemporary pop -- have put his words to music, hoping to let other suffers know they are not alone.

"The album is a tribute to Ricky and all the others like him who are suffering," Palash Sen, the band's lead singer said.

India has the world's highest HIV/AIDS cases with 5.7 million infected, according to the United Nations. But activists say the figure is much higher as many sufferers go undetected due to lack of surveillance and social stigma.

It has resorted to novel methods to stem the spread of the disease including hiring thousand of beggars to sing songs and act in plays about safe sex.

The Euphoria album is expected to have seven songs and is to be titled Dhoom's Day.

Sen said the name was chosen as it combines the Hindi "dhoom" meaning a good time or celebration with a pun on doomsday, the Christian Last Judgement.

"The name tries to convey that even if it is somebody's last day on earth or the last few moments, he still lives life to the fullest, relishing it," Sen said.