City’s HIV positive youths get a forum

Mumbai, July 16 Network of Positive people in Mumbai will provide emergency medical care, need-based advocacy

As the name suggests, its a positive step that will go a long way in enabling the citys HIV positive people fight the stigma and get emergency medical care. The Network of Positive people in Mumbai (NPM), a first such forum in the state, was launched by a group of 16 HIV positive youths, aged between 18 and 25 years, on July 11.

“A few months back, an HIV positive man suffered a severe paralytic attack. There was no one from his family to take him to the hospital. A few neighbours took him to the hospital but as soon as his status was revealed, they deserted him,” said Bharti Sonanwane, president of the NPM.

“It was then that we realised that it is very important that someone should take up the responsibility of providing emergency healthcare services to people suffering from HIV. The forum will help those who need hospitalisation, an will take care of the admission formalities and other basic requirements,” said Anand Ishware, the project manager.

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The network, active in Vidyavihar, has more than 500 members, both HIV positive people and family members of those infected.

The idea behind forming a mixed group of both infected and affected – those with HIV-positive family members – is to create awareness against discrimination. The youth group, under the aegis of NPM, will primarily perform street plays, give emergency services, raise funds and provide need-based advocacy.

“Even today families of the HIV positive people are discriminated against. Many a times theres no one to perform the last rights of the people dying of AIDS. We will ensure proper funeral services for such people,” said 27-year-old Maya (name changed). Maya discovered her HIV positive status four years ago after her husband died of AIDS.

Having members who were shunted out of their jobs due to their status, the forum will ensure a three-month training for those registering with it in the service sector. “When they started training, the corporate trainers told us that they are not sure whether HIV positive people will be given jobs or not. We asked them to train these youngsters and if they are still not given jobs at malls or cafes on the grounds of competence we will then intervene as young advocates,” said 25-year-old Ritu (name changed), who joined the youth forum as a full-time worker after leaving her job in a parlour.

“The youth group will give need-based advocacy where there are issues. We will also target colleges, corporates and hospitals where there are HIV positive youngsters,” said Ishware.

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