Light at the end of the tunnel
Despite the landmark NALSA judgement passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, wherein transgenders are to be recognized as the ‘third gender’, they are discriminated by the society. However, we at India HIV/AIDS Alliance keep transgenders in our hearts and work for their rights and well-being through our various programmes. Due to lack of opportunities in education and employment, many of them earn their bread by sex work which accentuates the risk of contracting HIV. I have been associated with India HIV/AIDS Alliance for the last three years and have had the opportunity to work closely with them.
As part of my field visit to Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh for our programme Hridaya, I met a beautiful transwoman named Sonia (name changed) who was narrating her personal experience of stigma and discrimination meted on her by her family members and society at large. Following regular illness she consulted a doctor in Delhi who suggested her to undergo HIV test along with other tests. After knowing her status, she felt her life was worthless. Her friend suggested her to go for re-test in the Gorakhpur ICTC, again her status was confirmed. She started her antiretroviral therapy (ART) where the ART counsellor suggested her to meet Vihaan Gorakhpur care and support centre (CSC) counsellor. She was counselled on positive living and encouraged to alter her perspective towards future as having HIV does not mean end of the world. After regular follow-ups and attending support group meetings she regained her confidence. She states “the credit for my positive thoughts and enhanced confidence goes to Vihaan CSC team members as they were with me when I believed I have no one.” The CSC team visits her home regularly and keep a track of her diet and treatment adherence. With their unflinching support, Sonia joined ‘Dera’ (home for trans people headed by a community head) again at the age of 31 and is ecstatic to be there as no one judges her and she can finally be herself.
The author of the blog is Bhagwati Prasad Kandpal- Technical Associate: Monitoring & Evaluation and is associated with India HIV/AIDS Alliance