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World AIDS Day 2020: Meet 44-Year-Old HIV Positive Warrior Who Is Helping Other Patients In Their Fight

Surender Kaur, 44-year-old HIV survivor from Haryana’s Rohtak got infected with HIV at the age of 19 years and back then doctors said she had only six months to live

World AIDS Day 2020: Meet 44-Year-Old HIV Positive Warrior Who Is Helping Other Patients In Their Fight
Highlights
  • Ms. Kaur had to face humiliation and stigma of being HIV positive
  • She did not have access to treatment for 10 years after contracting AIDS
  • She helps ensuring HIV positive pregnant women have healthy babies

New Delhi: Surender Kaur was only 19-year-old when she was diagnosed with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Viruses) at a hospital in Chandigarh. That was in 1995, just 17 months into her marriage to a truck driver from Karnal, Haryana from whom she contracted the virus. Her husband died in the same year due to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Ms. Kaur was told that she too will not able to survive and had less than six months to live. This brought her life to a complete standstill and filled her with fear. She eventually came to terms with her health condition and decided to carry on the fight. From being shunned by her own family, to facing humiliation from others to overcoming her survival challenges to keeping herself healthy, Ms. Kaur has been ‘living positively’ with HIV for the past 25 years.

Also Read: World Aids Day 2020: Here Are Some Lessons From Fight Against AIDS For Combating COVID-19

There was no treatment for HIV 25 years back. When the doctor said that I may also die soon, like my husband, people around me started treating me as a liability. Everything I did and anything that belonged to me became worthless for people. My baby daughter, who was born before I got HIV, was taken away from me by my mother-in-law who said that I should not let the baby be attached to me since I was going to die anyway. I did not ask for this to happen. It was my husband’s mistake. He contracted the virus from a sex-worker in Mumbai during one of his trips there, said Ms. Kaur.

Her struggle as HIV positive woman started after her husband’s family forced her to leave the house and did not let her take her daughter along with her. She had to move-in with her parents Rajasthan’s Alwar district, who supported her.

I spent almost 10 years of my HIV positive life without any medication as no treatment was available in my village till 2006. HIV positive patients were either becoming extremely ill, paralysed or dying due to AIDS or being killed by their families as they could not afford the treatment. I was undergoing a tremendous amount of mental stress because my daughter was taken away from me due to HIV even though my body did not show any symptoms of AIDS for almost 10 years. In 2005, I suffered Tuberculosis (TB) and in 2006 I received my first antiretroviral therapy (ART). Since then I have been taking the treatment continuously, she said.

Since her parents were economically poor and were already supporting their four other children, she decided to take up a job in order to contribute to the family’s expenditures. Finding a job was a challenge as she had to face discrimination at multiple levels for being an HIV positive woman from a poor family. She said,

I had just cleared my class 10 exams when I was married off to a truck driver. My parents accepted me after my in-laws kicked me out. But they used to cry every day thinking that I was dying. Every time I looked for a job, people used to turn me down telling me to “take care of my health”. Nobody was ready to give me any work.

Also Read: World AIDS Day 2020: Experts Debunk Some Of The Common Myths About HIV And AIDS

After struggling for many days, Ms. Kaur contacted the Network for HIV Positive People, a Gurugram-based social organization that gave her a job and a platform to learn more about the infection and possible treatments. After understanding about HIV she realised that there was a dire lack of awareness among people about HIV and AIDS. After gaining knowledge, she was also able to gain the courage to give up the fear of the virus and embrace her condition and make the most of each day that she gets to live. She said,

I decided to take up raising awareness about HIV/AIDS as the motto of my life and help those dealing with the virus get the required treatment free of cost from the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO). I worked with the Network for HIV Positive People for four years during which I helped HIV patients lead a normal life and conducted numerous workshops on HIV prevention among various groups of people including adolescents, youth, women, and men.

In 2010, she joined another NGO where she got a chance to work on rehabilitating those infected with HIV. Ms. Kaur was then offered a job by NGO SATHII (Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India) in 2017 where she has been working on helping pregnant HIV positive women have healthy babies. Currently, she is working with over 150 pregnant HIV positive women in Rohtak district of Haryana. While talking about her work, Ms Kaur said,

I aspire to contribute towards ending this disease. Now I am working on saving the babies entering the world from getting this disease. Right from the initial stages of pregnancy to about two years after the birth, we constantly check on women and their babies and provide them with treatment and care to prevent virus transmission.

Ms Kaur who is still waiting for a day to unite with her daughter, lives independently in Rohtak, working tirelessly towards the cause. Her work was recognised by Haryana AIDS Control Society and she was awarded with a certificate of appreciation in 2017. Ms. Kaur said that in order to combat HIV, people need to come out and reveal that they are positive and fight the stigma first. But she also says that it is easier said than done. She shared that even after over two decades of struggle, she sometimes finds herself hiding about her HIV from people she meets for the first time. While signing off, she said,

I had not disclosed about my HIV to my landlords for a long time because I see that people start distancing themselves when I tell them. I had been asked to vacate homes in the past. But this time when I revealed about me being an HIV positive woman, the reaction was not negative. While people are becoming aware that they will not get the HIV by being in the same building or in a same room with them, there is still a lot that needs to be done on awareness generation front. On the medical and treatment front, the government thankfully is very supportive and willing to help HIV patients.

Also Read: Expert Blog: HIV Prevention- Ending The HIV Epidemic Together

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

23,23,25,643Cases
19,46,11,603Active
3,29,58,002Recovered
47,56,038Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 23,23,25,643 and 47,56,038 have died; 19,46,11,603 are active cases and 3,29,58,002 have recovered as on September 28, 2021 at 3:48 am.

India

3,36,97,581 18,795Cases
2,92,2067,414Active
3,29,58,002 26,030Recovered
4,47,373 179Deaths
In India, there are 3,36,97,581 confirmed cases including 4,47,373 deaths. The number of active cases is 2,92,206 and 3,29,58,002 have recovered as on September 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,44,325

41,396 32

63,64,027

1,38,902 32

Kerala

46,41,587 11,699

1,57,733 6,122

44,59,193 17,763

24,661 58

Karnataka

29,73,899 504

12,833 409

29,23,320 893

37,746 20

Tamil Nadu

26,58,923 1,657

17,261 24

26,06,153 1,662

35,509 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,47,459 618

12,482 566

20,20,835 1,178

14,142 6

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,778 6

176 0

16,86,712 6

22,890

West Bengal

15,66,865 472

7,584 99

15,40,530 556

18,751 15

Delhi

14,38,746 32

366 5

14,13,295 37

25,085

Odisha

10,24,764 444

5,102 214

10,11,482 653

8,180 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,269 27

282 3

9,91,423 30

13,564

Rajasthan

9,54,316 13

86 9

9,45,276 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,872 21

142 9

8,15,648 30

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,504 8

118 2

7,81,868 6

10,518

Haryana

7,70,825 7

329 6

7,60,686 13

9,810

Bihar

7,25,947 3

57 11

7,16,230 14

9,660

Telangana

6,65,284 216

4,585 27

6,56,785 241

3,914 2

Punjab

6,01,538 38

284 2

5,84,747 35

16,507 1

Assam

6,01,031 412

4,587 42

5,90,593 362

5,851 8

Jharkhand

3,48,198 4

79 1

3,42,986 5

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,504 14

218 8

3,35,893 22

7,393

Jammu And Kashmir

3,29,125 117

1,513 1

3,23,190 118

4,422

Himachal Pradesh

2,18,523 209

1,730 16

2,13,124 225

3,669

Goa

1,76,145 50

862 56

1,71,980 106

3,303

Puducherry

1,26,127 37

866 35

1,23,423 72

1,838

Manipur

1,20,000 116

2,111 14

1,16,042 129

1,847 1

Mizoram

90,539 1,846

15,843 358

74,394 1,481

302 7

Tripura

84,085 19

275 3

82,999 22

811

Meghalaya

80,897 108

1,752 125

77,750 230

1,395 3

Chandigarh

65,217 7

44 3

64,354 4

819

Arunachal Pradesh

54,395 43

319 4

53,802 47

274

Sikkim

31,291 25

601 11

30,303 35

387 1

Nagaland

31,167 17

426 19

30,078 35

663 1

Ladakh

20,786 5

148 8

20,431 13

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

0 0

10,666

4

Lakshadweep

10,361

5 0

10,305

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,619 1

11 2

7,479 3

129

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