Tag Archives: HIV

J Dey murder case accused seeks bail

One of the 11 accused in the J Dey murder case filed a bail plea in the Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on medical grounds, stating that he was HIV positive and needed treatment.

The MCOCA court extended Anil Waghmode’s judicial custody on Tuesday till January 16.

The prosecution is likely to file its reply on the bail application next week.


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Plight of the HIV+ widow

Vrinda Sharma

CHANDIGARH: “The only thing worse than being HIV+ is being an HIV+ widow,” says 26-year-old Pooja Thakur, who lost her husband, a truck driver in Punjab, to AIDS five years ago. Pooja is one of the many widows in the State who are shunned by society once they contract HIV from their husbands.

Compared to the social stigma faced by such women, the medical complications of the disease look frivolous. Apart from being considered a “bad omen” at social functions, most such women are treated as outcasts by their own families.

“My in-laws blamed me for my husband’s death and threw me and my three sons, two of whom are HIV+, out on the street. Because of the social stigma, no one provides shelter or job to an HIV+ person and the females, especially young widows, usually fall prey to sexual abuse,” says Pooja who works as president of the Chandigarh Network of Positive People (CNP+).

While a few of these women manage to find some source of employment, usually as maids by hiding their disease, many fall prey to prostitution. “I lost my husband and I was denied my right over what he left behind. Worst, for no fault of mine, I too had HIV. At first I thought of committing suicide but there was no one to look after my children, so I left the village in Fazilka and went to Ludhiana, but poverty drove me to prostitution,” rues a 26-year-old mother of two whose husband contracted the disease by sharing infected needles.

According to the National AIDS Control Organisation, over 17 per cent of HIV/AIDS cases in Punjab are caused by sharing of infected needles, the national percentage for which is barely 3 per cent.

According to the CNP+ Programme Coordinator, “The national training module for prevention of transmission of HIV to children, 2002, is flawed because there is no consideration of the socio-economic variables of rural India. All efforts of the government agencies are focused at getting photos clicked and putting up a colourful exhibition followed by lunch and tea for the guests and VIPs.”

According to a senior official of the Punjab State AIDS Control Society, over 50,000 people visited the Red Ribbon Express, a special train run to create awareness among the masses about HIV/AIDS. The official added that the Government grants widows a pension and free education to all children irrespective of their HIV status. The pension received by a widow, HIV+ or not, is Rs.250 per month, which comes once in a few months, according to Meenaj Vij, who has been HIV+ for the past 14 years.

“Though the first few years are difficult, each widow learns to live for the sake of her children. A few lucky ones have a supportive family or a job, but even the unlucky ones carry on hoping for a better future for their children,” she adds.

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CSW can be the the solution to stop spread of HIV/AIDS

Vrinda Sharma

CHANDIGARH: “Commercial sex workers (CSW) remain at the receiving end of the society but with a little effort they can be the most effective agents of social change”, said Anil Yadav, who works for a local NGO, which has developed a unique way of spreading awareness amongst CSW. The centre is used to educate the CSWs about sexually transmitted diseases, personal hygiene, contraceptives and provide counselling about their personal and professional lives


According to the State AIDS Control Society, the number of female Commercial Sex Workers (CSW) in the city, with a population of less than 20 lakh, is around 3,500. The drop-in-centre has become more then a place for imparting education and awareness, it feels like ‘the only real home’ to many of its members. “This drop-in-centre is a home for many of us, because we can not sit together anywhere and share our problems and many of us have families that are unaware of our work. Here we interact, share problems, even celebrate festivals without any false façade,” said a 40-year-old CSW.


Trained staff and volunteers of the NGO have been employed to counsel the sex workers according to Sameera Yasmeea, supervisor of the centre, “Most female sex workers are from marginalized sections of society and are most vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases because of illiteracy, ignorance and unhygienic living conditions.” The drop in centre encourages them to use contraceptives, which are provided free of cost, and undergo medical examination regularly.

“Any talk of spreading awareness about HIV and safe sex are useless unless CSWs are a part of the process, that’s why we ensure that these ladies get free condoms and are convinced about its benefits. All the CSWs, that we are in touch with, use contraceptives and undergo a regular medical check up, which is a proof that the most common carrier of a deadly virus is most effective in containing it,” said a volunteer who is also a CSW. “Our drop-in centre meets the needs of over 900 CSWs, who are living in the adjoining slum colonies and villages, “added Yasmeea.


The volunteers said that most of the problems that the CSWs faced were with respect to their families, “CSWs also, like all women, need help with domestic issues. Those ladies whose families don’t know of their profession feel an added pressure.” Another volunteer added that the CSWs get exploited a lot from the Police, “The police know how the presence of CSWs, and often use their services also, but whenever they feel like, they ask for bribes or publically humiliate the females.”

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