Living with HIV in rural Odisha

India has won global appraisal with the consistent decline in number of HIV/AIDS infected people in the last three decades. By 2011, India marked more than 50% decline in number of new HIV infections. Yet, HIV/AIDS is still treated like a taboo in both urban and rural spheres. Jhunu, a resident of Baliba village in Odisha was infected by her husband. She has two sons, one of whom is also HIV positive. Her mother in law, Sabitri says, ‘one fine day Samir stopped talking and was unable to move his hands or legs. We took him to multiple hospitals counting on government schemes but all he could get was free medicines to kill the pain. We bore all the expenses of his treatment till he was alive’.

Samir was the only earning member of the family and since he has gone, life has become even more difficult for Jhunu and her children. Even though Sabitri supports her, she cannot sustain the family all by herself. As Jhunu desperately looks for a source of income to bear the medical costs and take care of her family, she is often subjected to exclusion and discrimination.

Community Correspondent Biswanath Patra elaborates, ‘Indian government runs multiple schemes and programs to spread awareness and help those who are affected by providing treatment and other benefits. But how far are these schemes reaching the people and helping to eradicate HIV? One can see the true picture from this village’.

‘Now the income of this family has become zero. The government did not provide any help earlier. If the government could provide a job or monetary benefit, then things can get better’, adds Pradipta Kumar Sethi, a family friend.

You can help Jhunu by calling the District Collector of Dhenkanal, Rupa Rasan Sahoo on 9439773964 and request government support and intervention.

Biswanath Patra reports from Dhenkanal district of Odisha for IndiaUnheard.

This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent. Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.

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