HIV-tainted girl in Sangli takes life ‘positively’

Published: Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010, 12:11 IST
By Nozia Sayyed | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA

“I intend to become a journalist and a social worker, will you help me?” asked 17-year-old Meena from Sangli, who is HIV-positive and fighting for her right against social stigma for many years.

Source: DNA India

Published: Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010, 12:11 IST
By Nozia Sayyed | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA

“I intend to become a journalist and a social worker, will you help me?” asked 17-year-old Meena from Sangli, who is HIV-positive and fighting for her right against social stigma for many years.

Meena had undergone trauma and mental harassment, physical abuse and depression. But she is also full of energy and optimism.

She told DNA, “I want to spread awareness about HIV, especially about mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).”

She was born positive, people hated and ignored her. “I was tortured, threatened and at times even thrashed by local villagers,” she said. Many such traumas haunt Meena, who works with an NGO, Suryoday Aids Foundation, as a teen counsellor and member.

Asked about the life she spent in her village, Chincholi in Sangli, Meena said, “Both my parents were HIV+ and died of the infection when I was very young. My father was a drunkard and mother was a homemaker. My siblings include three elder brothers and a sister, who are HIV-negative and married.”

After her parents deaths she was left alone in the house that was always locked. “Since I was very young (12), I had many questions in my mind about the villagers behaviour. They tortured me and abused me for being HIV+. I was depressed and was kept starving for many days till a social worker noticed my plight,” she added.

She recollects, “He took me to the rural hospital where they declared my status to me and explained the condition. I was shocked but I did not lose hope. They educated me about the infection, but the time had come when I was shooed away from my village. I was alone and isolated. The NGO helped me survive.”

She went on to complete a 3-month course in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavans Pune centre that is supported by Unicef.

“I was awarded the best child reporter award, the Nanasaheb Parulekar Patrakarita award for Bal Patrakarita,” she beamed on Tuesday.

Tejaswini Thite, project incharge of the foundation said, “Meena was adopted by Suryoday two years ago. She was isolated by society and was very depressed. Today, she conducts awareness workshops, educates and counsels people about HIV infection, helps HIV+ children fight the disease.”

Meena is currently on the first line anti-retroviral treatment and is very enthusiastic about leading a healthy life and getting cured some day with the help of a vaccine.



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