When Mahalakshmi lost her husband, it felt as if darkness had engulfed her life completely. He was the sole earning member in the family and she had no idea how she would feed and bring up her two little children.
Her husband had tested positive to HIV, after a prolonged illness. After he passed away, she was ostracized by her family. She felt depressed and attempted suicide many times. Finally, she gathered courage and got herself tested for HIV. She found she was also HIV positive.
She met the ART counselor at the government hospital and was informed about the District Level Network for PLHIV (DLN) in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu. Here she was counseled on positive living and asked to participate in the support group meetings. She met people who had gone through the same ordeal in life. The support group meetings boosted her confidence. She joined a private factory but had to leave the job after six months as it was taking a toll on her health.
Finally, she joined the network and today she is working as a counselor for the PACT programme. She is economically independent and is able to take care of her children.
Lakshman was brought to the Umang Community Care Centre in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh by an outreach worker. He was very ill, depressed and disturbed. The warmth and friendly attitude of the counselor helped him to open up. He told him that he had a wife and a son. He had got a job in a diamond factory in Surat and had moved there alone. After some time, he started falling ill frequently. He was unable to continue his job and returned home. On a doctor’s advise, he got tested for HIV and discovered he was infected. The news had shattered him and he was filled with regret and remorse.
After five days stay at Umang CCC, he went back home to start a new life. The counselor advised HIV testing for other members of his family. His wife and son were found to be HIV positive too. The news further affected his health. His CD4 count decreased to 195 and he lost a lot of weight. He returned to the Umang CCC to seek treatment and counseling. He started ARV treatment, was counseled on positive living and met other people living a normal life with HIV.
Today Lakshman has established a HIV positive support group of 55 members in Balrampur. He is also working as an agricultural worker and living a happy life with his family.