Imagine living with HIV/AIDS. It would be one of the most difficult experiences you would go through in your life. You would be scared, confused, and maybe even a little angry. Your life is now changed forever. Now imagine living with HIV/AIDS in India. People in India know little to nothing about HIV/AIDS, and they isolate those diagnosed with the disease.
There are approximately 2.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in India, and India has the third-largest HIV epidemic in the world. In India, there is a giant stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. People diagnosed with the disease are often outcast by their peers, which is an incredibly difficult thing to go through.
There is a general lack of knowledge associated with HIV/AIDS in India, which is why NACO (or the National AIDS Control Organization) was created by the Indian government. NACO offers resources such as testing, treatment, and education centers for people living with HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, the physical act of walking into an HIV treatment center is too big a statement for most people to make, and many people never seek treatment until it is too late. UNAIDS (link to unaids.org) predicts that about 95% of people living with HIV/AIDS in India do not receive treatment, and illness or death is often masked as tuberculosis.
HIV/AIDS is wrongfully assumed in India to be a disease you can easily “catch”, such as a common cold. Hostility, discrimination, and harassment are all commonplace for people diagnosed with the disease. People are refused work and forced to fend for themselves, which may lead to mental illness and even homelessness.
Children living with HIV/AIDS are in the most vulnerable position, and they are often abandoned by their family for a number of reasons:
- Their families may not be able to financially support them through treatment
- They are afraid of “catching” the disease themselves
- They are unsure of how they can possibly help their child
These children are also turned away from institutional care, orphanages, and schools, leaving them extremely limited options.
Tribe of Lambs (link to http://tribeoflambs.com) is becoming part of the solution to this problem. We now focus exclusively on creating brighter futures for HIV-positive children in India by providing them with the resources they need. Together we can create social change by educating people and ending the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
If you would like to donate to our Compassion Projects, visit our website at tribeoflambs.com.
About the Author
Jaime Ruck is a sustainable fashion enthusiast and communications intern for Tribe of Lambs. Tribe of Lambs is a nonprofit ethical jewelry brand creating brighter futures for HIV-positive children in India. They are committed to using fashion as a vehicle for social good and environmental sustainability. Jaime is currently studying Public Relations at university in Vancouver.