Living with HIV—three simple words that hide the deepest layers of adversity and struggle. According to the latest figures released by the government of India, the estimates suggest that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome) in the country has gone down from 2.31 million in 2007 to 2.27 million in 2008-09, while the prevalence of the infection is down to 0.29% from 0.36% in 2007.
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But this does not lessen the struggle of those who are inflicted with the disease. If the body’s failing immunity isn’t bad enough, there is the added horror of social stigma, an aspect of the disease that is difficult to quantify, but often harder to fight than the effects of the virus itself. But with each challenge, those who live under the shadow of HIV find new depths of resolve. A teenager with HIV goes from being an outcast in his village in Bihar to running his own support group in Delhi for people with AIDS.
A woman widowed by HIV and carrying the virus herself, breaks the shackles of a hopeless life in a village in Tamil Nadu to run her own project to help women with the disease. A 22-year-old man fights not just HIV, but also haemophilia, and still tops his college course. On the occasion of World AIDS Day on Wednesday, we bring you real life stories of those who have learnt to cope with the disease.
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