Reflections from recipients of APCOM HERO Awards: HIV Hero 2017

By November 30, 2020 Advocacy, Newsroom, Showcase

Gautam Yadav is our first ever HIV Hero recipient of the HERO Awards in 2017. Gautam is an out gay man living with HIV, has been an inspiration to HIV positive people-young and old.

Here he kindly gives his views on World AIDS Day 2020. 

What have been some gains / improvement in India on HIV?

India’s HIV prevention program model became one of the best models in the world which was adopted by several countries. India was successful in reducing the number of new HIV infections and improved HIV prevention services and quality of treatment for the people in India.

The law is in place to protect the rights of people living with HIV which helps to reduce stigma and discrimination.

Collaboration between community-based organizations and the government was also one of the successful strategies to reach out to the key populations and provide the services to the community members through the community-lead target interventions.

What are still the gaps in HIV policy / programmes in India from a PLHIV perspective – what policy / programme gaps still exist? 

Stigma and discrimination got reduced but somehow, we failed to eliminate it even though the regular sensitization and working with the community work – community members still face stigma and discrimination at the healthcare facility.

Not all the private clinics follows the National AIDS Control Organisation’s guidelines some of the cases which still report to me personally where people don’t get a proper pre-test or post-test counseling and share the report directly with their friends or family members.

Corporates or other organizations are still doing the HIV test before hiring the employees and not bother to take consent or mostly employee know about his HIV testing when they get the complete routine test reports this is one of the unethical practices which unfortunately still exists.

PLHIV community in India is still struggling to get health insurance as in the country health insurance is not available for HIV-positive people.

We are focused on the HIV services but we also need to include co-morbidities i.e. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hepatitis.

Also, need to focus on sexual reassignment surgery for the trans persons living with HIV.

As a PLHIV, and having such a regional profile – do you have anything to say to young people that are living with HIV but are afraid to talk about this? 

The most common question which people ask after diagnosis is how long they will be able to live?

To people living with HIV I would like to say that you may feel sad, angry, or scared and that is totally fine but what we always need to remember is that HIV doesn’t stop you to live long and fulfill your dreams. You just need to be a bit more alert and adopt good practice i.e. eat healthy, sleep well, do some exercise, yoga, manage your health take your medicine on time people can also have a healthy and happy sex life with precautions and be into a relationship as well.

And never forget one important thing which I always tell people that “DO NOT LET YOUR HIV VIRUS DECIDE YOUR FUTURE”

This year’s WAD theme is “Global solidarity, shared responsibility” – what would you recommend to make this theme a reality? 

There are still people living with HIV who feel isolated and struggle in their daily life to become part of the mainstream population. The travel restriction is still one of the challenges that some countries don’t allow people living with HIV to enter their country.

In the healthcare sector if a doctor, nurse, or any medical staff became positive then they have to face challenges in the work setup as there will be a restriction for them not to be part of any operations even if they will use the universal precautions i.e. pathologist and dentist. These are the challenges which still exist and people have to deal with it on day to day basis then how can someone be hopefully that will end AIDS by 2030 or will be able to provide best quality services to the PLHIV community.  

No matter who we are, what we are, and where we are. We always need to remind ourselves that ending AIDS by 2030 is our responsibility and when we are united, we get strength and when we are responsible, we work as a family.