On Stigma & Discrimination – HIV & AIDS

My name is Radha Mani, and I have been working with the PLHIV community for the past eight years through partnerships with various community based organizations. I have been a regular listener of Radio Active’s Chigurida Badaku, a  show on HIV/ AIDS that was being broadcast thrice a week, hosted  by RJ Vimala Bai, since 2010. in 2012,   I had the opportunity to attend  the Community Women Broadcaster Training program,  and later volunteered full time at Radio Active from April 2014…

I believe that one of the major issues that PLHIV people often face is that of stigma and discrimination- negative attitudes, prejudice, taunts, and what not. However, one of the major concerns is that of discrimination against children and that is something not much talked about. People fear the topic and  it is often seen as a taboo word, not to be spoken aloud. But are there any positive stories of acceptance? Or are the acceptances conditional?

In this special five episode series, in  Part 1  I would like to share a story of Smitha and her daughter Shruthi aged 14 years ( Name changed to maintain privacy) –

Shruthi is sent away from school, when the school authorities discovered that she was HIV positive and felt that their school reputation was at stake and the other students might be affected … Smitha then called me and narrated the incidence. I mother, myself, I felt the need to act against the irresponsibility of the school and  I discussed the matter  with the HIV Task Force Team and we approached the school and counseled them and finally the school accepted Shruthi, on the condition that the entire Task Force team sign on a bond paper that the information of Shruthi being positive is not discussed with the other students or teachers and the name of the school is never mentioned” . Following the signatures, the school allows her to join classes  and Shruthi’s happiness knows no bounds 

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I believe that these stories, must be told as ignorance is not bliss, and if we want to be seen as being inclusive , acceptance is key  and that has to start from learning institutions. Let me know what you think?Tune in to Radio Active and listen to  Chigurida Badaku, on Wednesday 8th October 2014 at 3.00pm to 3.30pm

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