HYDERABAD: After bearing social stigma and fighting discrimination for a number of years, close to 300 persons living with HIV (PLHIVs) in the city are now barely surviving. Part of Cheyutha, a women-based community organisation, the lives of these 300 individuals, including 33 children have been hanging in the balance with minimum or no support.
“As we come to the end of every quarter, fear sets in. The medicinal and nutritional needs of these 300 people flash across my mind. I have to wait and see if any individual offers help,” says Priya, founder of Cheyutha.
To raise awareness about their condition and seek sustainable support, Robin Hood Army (RHA), an organisation that works for the needy, is conducting a 5K run on December 24 at KBR Park.
“We want to spread the message and see to that we bring in as many people who can to offer us support for a period of time,” said Uma Chilakmarri, city head, RHA.
RHA has already started an extensive online campaign and has begun to receive donations, but the need of Cheyutha is specific, added Uma. However, Priya explained that though there are organisations supporting Cheyutha, the needs of these PLHIVs are not being addressed.
“These people belong to poor families, working as domestic workers, daily wage labourers or in similar jobs. They are prone to opportunistic infections such as skin infections like diarrhoea, vomitings, weight loss as they take Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). Besides, while ART helps control the growth of the virus, they need to take additional medicines to avoid the side effects,” explained Priya, who is also a PLHIV.
Meanwhile,LEPRA Society has been supporting Cheyutha since 2003. However, the society is currently unable to give them the support they need. “We have survived for more than 10 years because of them, but they won’t be able to help us after this year. Even today, they are only providing salaries for the staff which are as little as `4000 or `6000,” said Priya.
At present, Value Labs is supporting 15 young PLHIVs who were kept under foster care of their grandparents when they were children. A friend of Priya has offered to provide educational support for some of the children.