Published: 01st December 2018
Born HIV positive, this 26-year-old is now a mother of two healthy children. This is her story
Proper medication and precautions can help HIV positive people have kids who aren't infected by the virus. Chitra's story tells us that
Chitra* often wonders why the HIV testing and ART medication for pregnant women were made mandatory only in the nineties. Had it been there in the early 90s, she would have lived a healthy life, just like her little ones do right now.
A resident of Perambalur, she heard of AIDS for the first time in 2000, only after her father's death. He'd been ill for a long time. But until the day he died, nobody knew that he was HIV positive. "To make sure that everything was all right, my mother and I were tested. To our shock, we both had the virus," she says. Since then, Chitra and her mother have been under the ART medication, thanks to the NGO Positive Women's Network and the doctors of the Government Hospital in Tambaram. She'd constantly attend the counselling sessions and the children's camps at the NGO, run by Kousalya Periyasamy, regularly as a kid. She was among the first few children in Tamil Nadu to take ART medicines after they were introduced in the state.
Chitra is still thankful to the people of her village who never ostracised or discriminated against her. What the reason was, she doesn't know. It could be the lack of awareness or, a she would like to believe, the villagers were really progressive and had hearts of gold. She'd any day go with the latter. "Everyone knew that I got it from my father. I lived in that village till the day I got married. I studied in the government school till ninth grade and not even once did I feel different," says Chitra.
Cupid struck her in her late teens when a cousin fell in love with her. He was adamant about marrying her and she was in love with him too. But there was a dilemma. What if she passes on the virus to her beloved and their future kids? But despite all her worries, the couple got married in 2010. They welcomed their first child in 2011 and the second one a few months ago, in June. She was always under medication and her husband and the two children have tested negative. "I hope life goes on this way. Right now, all I wish is that my family continues to live a healthy life," she says.
Recently, we were in conversation with Dr K Senthil Raj IAS, the Project Director of TANSACS, who spoke to us about how the organisation used memes to create awareness on HIV Positive people having a healthy baby. "It is mandatory now for every pregnant woman to get themselves tested for HIV. If they're positive, we put them under medication. The babies are also given medication for 6-12 weeks after they're born," he says.
*Name changed on request