Sentience towards the stigmatization faced by people affected by HIV/Aids is key to a comprehensive approach to the delivery of appropriate treatment and care to People Living with HIV/Aids (PLWHA). The social exclusion borne out of this stigmatization manifests itself most profoundly in the dissemination of information. The lack of knowledge, what to do now? Often has paralysing impact on the patient. At FXB India Suraksha Care and Support Centre, we make it a point to be responsive to the trauma and helplessness felt by the patients who seek our help and support.
Andal (name changed)'s story is idiomatic of the feeling of being exposed and uncertainty facing most patients. She is from Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh. Being childless, she and her husband adopted a girl child. But soon after, her husband fell into an unremitting illness. His health went for further decline due to a wrong diagnosis, he became debilitated. His severe emaciation and inability to work for more than a couple of hours led his doctors to prescribe a test for the HIV virus. The world collapsed around them, when both she and her husband tested positive for HIV. Their world revolved around unlimited questions, apprehensions, doubts and despair, they had no idea what this was all about, whether there was a cure for this ‘dreaded disease', was it infectious, would they die of this disease? What were they to do?
Today Andal is an integral part of the FXB India Suraksha Care and Support Program Centre. Though uneducated Andal, recognizes 'word pictures', and through information charts she ensures that once people come to the centre, they remain engaged there. Her effervescent smile accompanying her response to any question with a broader smile makes her inimitable. 'Entering the door of the centre was like walking into a new life,' she says. Their rehabilitation included Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), supplementary nutrition and counselling. Their CD4 counts began to rise. Andal's husband soon got back to work. Seeing Andal's instant rapport with people and her potential to counsel, she was taken on into the program as a full time staff. Andal says that the love, respect, care and acceptance at the centre are largely responsible for the people’s quick recovery.
One day at work Andal’s husband found a three week old baby boy wailing in a nearby garbage dump. At the Care & Support Centre Andal and her husband took care of the baby and with incessant efforts of the resident doctors, nursed him back to good health. When they could not find his biological parents they decided to adopt him. Today the couple lives in a happy family of four.