New Delhi: To commemorate the World AIDS Day, 2017, The American Center, USAID/PEPFAR, CDC and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), organised a one-of-its-kind experience sharing session on HIV – “Life with a Virus”. The event brought live experiences from Mr Chinmay Modi, who was born with HIV, Dr Huma Qureshi, a researcher at the HIV Vaccine Translational Research Laboratory (HVTR) and Dr Naveet Wig, Professor, Department of Medicine AIIMS.
Dignitaries including Dr Bilali Camara, UNAIDS Country Director for India, Ms Henita Kuntawala, PEPFAR Country Coordinator, India, Dr Rajat Goyal, Country Director India, IAVI, and Dr Timothy H Holtz, Program Director at Division of Global HIV and TB/India, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were also present at the event.
Chinmaya who was born with HIV, shared, “I was nine years old when I first found out about my HIV status. Soon I met with other people who were living with HIV, fighting for their rights, and I engaged with a community based organisation, where I got the opportunity to come in front of the government share the problems faced by people living with HIV. Life was like a rollercoaster where I was trying to be happy, driving away thoughts that I had HIV, and trying to believe that I was a healthy person, but the society kept bringing us back to the same spot where everyone was stigmatising us. I was keen to work for people living with HIV, as I have seen a lot of problems in my life wherein stigma and denial of treatment were the biggest problems. I had one thing in my mind that there should not be any other Chinmay in India. I’m trying my best but there is still a long way to go. I feel that HIV is something which should be talked about. I can proudly say that I am living with HIV and I don’t have any regrets for myself or my parents.”
According to the recent UNAIDS report, globally, 36.7 million people are living with HIV, out of which India shares the third largest burden of 2.1 million people. The event was organised with an aim to destigmatise the people living with HIV, through these narratives.