Marriage meets, counselling help Patients start life afresh
Ten years ago, when Kshama found out she was HIV positive and lost her husband to the disease, she was distraught and felt helpless.mumbai Updated: Dec 01, 2011 01:40 IST
Ten years ago, when Kshama found out she was HIV positive and lost her husband to the disease, she was distraught and felt helpless.
But exactly a year ago on World Aids Day, she tied the knot with Vijay, after a marriage meet for HIV positive people, and is now expecting her second baby. “Since Vijay accepted my son from the first marriage, I was happy and did not put forth any conditions,” said Kshama, 34, a health worker. “People must participate in these meets; otherwise they will be lonely and miserable,” said Vijay, 36, who works as office assistant in a college.
Initiatives such as a marriage meet or marital counselling are helping HIV positive couples start life afresh. Activists working in the field say HIV positive people need organisational support as the stigma is so strong that it is nearly impossible to find a life partner who is HIV negative.
“A healthy marriage ensures companionship and builds confidence,” said Dr.Ashish Bhosle, chief medical officer, Sanmitra Trust, which counsels HIV positive couples. “The couples share their fears about their health and uncertainty about their children's future. With a little help they can have healthy marriages.”
A few years ago, the NGO Population Services International started a dedicated service to bring together HIV positive people. Though that project is no longer operational, a few NGOs like Udaan Ghar Trust in Mumbai and Disha in Pune organise annual “marriage melas”.
“We circulate details of the registered members so that nothing is hidden,” said Avinash Chakranarayan, who organises an annual meet in Pune for HIV patients. Every year around 300 people attend the meet and 12 to 16 couples get married in the months that follow.
(All names have been changed to protect identity)