World Aids Day: December 1; ‘We help patients overcome social stigma attached to HIV’, says Pune activist
City-based activist Manisha Ankush Pawar, who works with the Community Aid and Sponsorship Programme (CASP), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has been nominated for the 4th Annual Community Leadership Awards by Alliance India, for her work with people affected with Aids (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
Every year on December 1 on the occasion of World Aids Day these awards are given to prominent personalities contributing to the community work. The award function will be held in New Delhi on November 30.
Pawar speaks to Dheeraj Bengrut about her work and what inspired her to work for people affected with Aids.
How did you get into the field of social work and what training have you taken for the same?
One of my close relatives was affected with HIV and so I came into this field. I completed my Class 10 in 1994 and two years back I have cleared my Class 12 exams. I am working with Network for People Living with HIV organisation from 2006. I work on different projects and counsel people affected by HIV or AIDS. I have taken training for counselling HIV patients including medical treatment, counselling, and their rehabilitation. I also visit different organisations as a motivational speaker.
What is the nature of your work?
Whenever a patient approaches us we have to give them mental support due to the social stigma attached it the diseases. We take counselling sessions for them and inform them about the treatment. In most cases, the patients give up hope, so we help them to overcome the fear and start medical treatment.
How do you do counsel HIV affected patients once they approach you?
These patients have to be handled with a lot of care. First, we have to listen to them patiently and understand their situation and need. Secondly, we start building confidence in them through counselling sessions and medical treatment. We inform them about the antiretroviral therapy (ART) which is available easily now. Antiretroviral therapy is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. This treatment does not cure the patients completely but increases their life span. So we tell the importance of this therapy and how to go about it and we clear all their doubts about health-related issues.
Do you feel that your work has been appreciated and recognised?
I am happy that someone has recognised the work done by Casp, NGO. It is a very big thing and the award has given us a national platform to highlight the various problems faced by the people affected by HIV.
What are your future plans?
My goal is to work for HIV affected people and help as many people as possible. My family is my support system because of whom I can work in this field.