This world AIDS Day we bring to you inspiring stories of men and women who have gracefully fought HIV. HIV is a condition where you get infected with human immunodeficiency virus, which eventually destroys your immune system, destroys the body’s capability to fight diseases. At present this condition is an irreversible one. If you are detected HIV+ then for your entire life you remain infected until modern medicine comes up with some new invention to kill the virus. AIDS is an advanced stage where much harm has already been done to your body and your body is no longer able to fight even minor infections of cold and flu. If you are under proper medication then your life expectancy is increased by many years. With proper medication you can lead a near normal life with little or no disruption in your work life.
This is a story of Dr. Devadatta Gore. He worked as surgeon in the coastal town of Ratnagiri until he tested positive with HIV in 1994. He massively started losing weight and it dropped to a low of 38 Kg. Now and then his body gave into infections like herpes and cerebral atrophy and in 1996 his doctors gave him an ultimatum of a maximum of four months to live. He then embarked on a combination of healing procedures: yoga, nutrition, breathing exercises, antiretroviral therapy and spiritual healing. To summarize, he approached for a holistic healing. Since then he has been on a path of recovery. He now works part time as a physician and has set up a group for positive people. In HIV, we are always unsure what would work. But whatever mode of treatment you choose, you need to come to terms with yourself and accept the fact that this is going to be a life-long struggle.
HIV doesn’t have to stop you living a long, happy and fulfilling life. With the right treatment and support it is possible to live as long as the average person. Micha was born with HIV. She found out about her condition when she was seven. Now she is a bubbly teenager of 15. All throughout her life she has been on medicines but as a child she never knew what for! But now she leads a normal life with sleepovers at friends place, parties, high school and going on dates with her boyfriend. She has an active sexual life and her boyfriend has full knowledge of her condition. However she is a little apprehensive about revealing her status to all her friends because it does not concern them directly and there is a risk of people being judgemental. She has a very positive attitude towards life and doesn’t let HIV limit her.
India has the third highest number of positive patients in the world. The story of HIV/AIDS in India is one of denial and delusion. The assumption was that since there was no ‘LGBT’ community in India, there was bound to be no virus either. AIDS is a disease that had its inception in Africa within the gay communities. Therefore Dr Suniti Solomon, who conducted a research on sex workers in Chennai and found many of them positive, was met with dismissal. After crosschecking her samples from John Hopkins University, she found many of them positive and announced to the world that HIV had not spared India as well. India came to terms with it at later stage when scientists discovered that the virus could actually be transferred through blood transfusions as well.
People not only lose their loved ones and friends but their livelihood as well. There are ‘n’ numbers of cases where people have been asked to quit their jobs because of the stigma attached to it. Many discontinue simply because their health do not permit it. There are couples who are positive yet their children are free from the virus. Through these stories we want to spread awareness, foster well being, so that people infected with HIV may live a life of dignity, free from social ostracism. If you or your family member is fighting HIV, doctors who practice internal medicine are best suited for your treatment. There are many voluntary organisations, groups and NGO’s helping people with HIV. If you have the slightest doubt that you may have been infected, you should get yourself tested.