Wednesday, September 26, 2007

AIDS awareness for Tibetan university students in Bangalore

A Tibetan student doing his Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) at St. Joseph college of Arts and Science, Bangalore takes initiative to make sure his young fellow Tibetan friends studying in the city are completely aware of AIDS.
Although, AIDS is not an appalling issue among Tibetans in exile, more concerns on this dreadful disease have been raised very occasionally in recent times calling for more awareness on the disease within Tibetan community. For this reason, the young Tibetan student felt that Aids awareness is very much needed among Tibetan students in a fast-paced metropolitan city like Bangalore.
A large number of Tibetan students choose Bangalore either for their higher studies or for job opportunities every year.
For this, four members of an NGO working on HIV/AIDS called, SPAD (Society for People’s Action for Development (SPAD) was invited to give an eye-opening talk and interact closely with the Tibetan students. The event was held at the Tibetan Youth Hostel’s Auditorium.
After a short welcome note by the Hostel accountant, Mr. Dhondup; a member from SPAD gave a detailed introductory talk on AIDS highlighting the ways the disease gets spread.
An in-depth discussion on the disease went on with detailed presentation supported by diagrams and factual data. According to the resource persons from organization, about 86% of AIDS in India are being transmitted through sexual intercourse. According to them, children born from an infected mother has 32 to 35% chances of being infected from the disease, but fortunately such a child can be protected from the disease if timely special medical care is given
The disease however does not spread through kissing, mosquitoes bite, and sharing of food, using of same towel since the virus survives in blood and gets transferred only through blood.
Using infected patient’s needles, transfer of infected blood and having unprotected sex with an infected person are the most common ways of getting infected with the disease.
After the introductory talk, the four members stood up and asked the audience to guess who among them is an HIV positive. After much attempt, the participants failed to do so since there are no any specific syndromes of an HIV infected person.
To our surprise, two among them, one male and another female, were in fact infected with the disease. Both of them narrated their tales of horror on condition of anonymity and the social stigmas they have to suffer.
They now have two things in common. After undergoing great difficulties in trying to hold on to their lives facing hard challenges, both of them are now completely positive with their lives. They are now using their experiences, knowledge and energy to educate people on the disease.
At present, India has over 5.7 million people infected HIV Positive and the number is increasing day by day making, specially young people, increasingly vulnerable to the disease if due precautions are not taken.
Following is the personal story narrated by the two victims.
FEMALE: Just after finishing class 10, I had to leave school and got married at an age of 18 due to financial problem in my family. We have five children in our family. After marriage, life went quite well with children growing and my husband’s business running well. After 15 years of sound marriage life, suddenly my husband started getting infected with different diseases and continued getting worse. After medical consultation, he was declared HIV positive. So, the family members too were requested to undergo medical examination in which unluckily I was also infected.
Since then, from family life to out family business, everything started going wrong. Due to lack of knowledge about the disease, people in our locality started avoiding us.
We heard of a doctor in Kerala who could heal AIDS patients and immediately we went for the treatment. However the treatment did no good and after 100 days my husband died. It was painful to see that for the funeral almost every villagers avoided and nobody was willing to touch the body too.
Since then life was proving like a hell in my own village as everyone avoided me and my family. Finally, I decided to leave my own village and came to Bangalore to start a new life. In Bangalore too, life was no easier as I have to do all the hard works like security guard.
In the meanwhile, I got in with NIMHANS hospital through which I got into an NGO working for AIDS awareness and counseling to the patients. And now I am leading my life positively contributing for the benefit of other people. Spreading AIDS awareness and counseling infected persons are what I do now. I have already survived for seven years with HIV positive and I am still alive
I want to tell younger generation “To take necessary precaution and be bold even if you are infected as infection is not the end of life.”
MALE: I am from Manipuri and I am 28 years old. I started taking drugs from the early age of 13. Since then, I had been very much addicted to drugs that I have to struggle for money to get my regular dose.
I later went to Delhi to work at the airport. While working there in Delhi I had a chance to go abroad and I was 17 years old by then. However, I could not fly abroad as my medical examination reported I was having HIV positive. A doctor explained me that I can live not more than two years. I was very much shocked and I did not know what to do.
Very much disturbed, I started over dosing myself with drugs wishing to die at once. But, the doses did not kill me. And then a positive thought came to my mind. I felt, at least I can use my remaining time doing something worth for others instead of wasting it.
I then went to Lucknow and opened an organisation to help drug victims to start a normal life. It was a very difficult job for me and I came to Bangalore and joined with SPAD to work for AIDS people and spread awareness on AIDS.


By Tenzin Jangchup Lingshar

Tenzin Jangchup Lingshar can be contacted at
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