In 2008, while attending a workshop on journalism and communication in Pune, Asavari Patil (name changed), 23, found herself getting attracted to another participant, Amit (name changed).
During the workshop, it was revealed that some of the participants, including Amit, were HIV positive.
Patil, a Sangli resident, started working with the Sangli chapter of Network of Maharashtra People with HIV (NMP+). A year later, when Patil met Amit at a workshop in Mumbai, she told him she liked him and wanted to be with him.
“She told me that she did not want HIV to come in the way of our relationship,” said Amit, who married her a year ago.
This couple is a rare example of cases where a person chooses a life partner who has a chronic ailment such as HIV. “I have come across more such cases in the US, but not so many in India,” said Shreya Potdar, a counsellor who practises in Mahalaxmi and Bandra.
“Amit asked me what I would do if he died early. I told him I would be taking that risk with any man I married. I told him I knew the precautions to take,” said Patil.
Sangeeta Parmar, 32, was no stranger to Paresh Parmar’s medical problems. Paresh, a Vile-Parle resident, suffers from haemophilia, a blood disorder where the body lacks a coagulating agent (factor VIII or IX) and blood takes a long time to clot. He lived close to Sangeeta’s house and met through common friends.
“When Sangeeta first met me in 1996, I could not even walk. I was suffering a severe bout of joint injury,” said Parmar, a graphic designer who started his own studio in Andheri.
The couple secretly had a registered wedding in 2002 as Sangeeta’s parents were opposed to it.
“I never thought of him as having a serious medical problem and that it was a risk for me to marry him. I just wanted my parents to approve,” said Sangeeta.
Her parents relented in 2004, after which they had a wedding according to Hindu rites. They have a seven-year-old son.