I Am 19, HIV Positive, And Refuse To Conceal My Name

akshara

As told to ndtv.com

Last year in August, I got admission into the WIRAS college for BSc Psychology. A recommendation which facilitated my admission said I am “socially challenged”. From the beginning, the Principal and my department’s teachers knew that I am HIV+. For my first semester, I studied in the college hostel since I live four hours away. Soon after my first semester, in January 2016, I had to return home because I fell sick. It was then that two teachers from the college came to meet me and asked me to leave the hostel.

They told me that two sets of parents of (women) students have removed their children from the hostel because I stay there. The parents fear that their daughters won’t be able to get married because they share space with me. They said they have been told that the virus spreads in the night and by sharing the same bathrooms. The teachers asked my opinion on what should be done and then said that I need to move out of hostel for the good of all.

I told them I want to study. Today, because of two children, you are asking me to leave (the) hostel; tomorrow, because of four students, will you ask me to leave the college? I agreed to move out of the hostel if they find me a place, because my aim is to study and I know I have to adjust. My mother was called to the college and after she returned, she told me the only options I have are to either move out of the hostel or stay put at home, which is four hours away from college.

I don’t want to hide my name or my picture (identity). I have not done anything wrong. Why should I hide anything about myself? I only want to study. In fact, my mother is a home-maker. I have come this far only because of the support of institutions and people around me. It was in 2013 that my father, who was HIV+, died. My brother and I were denied admission in primary school after that until the media and people stood up for us. But I was a child at that time. That battle was not mine, it was my mother’s. In so many years, this is the first time that I am standing up to such blatant discrimination by an educational institution. I am hopeful that the District Collector will uphold my dignity in the meeting that he has called for with all stakeholders.

Other students in my college have never misbehaved with me. In fact even those two students who reportedly moved out of the hostel because of me spoke to me very nicely. I was eventually told by the college authorities to shift to a place run by a charitable trust. I stayed there for one day. The people there are very nice. But why should I be made to stay in an orphanage? Why do I have to answer questions about whether I am an orphan or not? That’s not the kind of atmosphere I deserve. I want to study and have the right atmosphere around me. I told this to the Principal, who, in turn, told me that I should focus on my studies alone. It was then that I told them to get me a decent hostel to stay or give me a transfer certificate so I can attend another college.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

54 COMMENTS

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  4. I commend your courage to come out with the truth about HIV but one of your statements actually represents your own attitude toward another unfortunate kind of people – orphans. You say that ‘that is not the way I deserve to be treated..’ – one wonders if you consider being presumed an orphan offensive. It might be unfortunate if you are mistaken for one, but being an orphan is not a crime just as being HIV +ve is not. And for all the erudite and upright citizens here posting stuff about HIV, it also pays to know that HIV positive persons ARE at increased risk for drug resistant infections including tuberculosis, and a person who contracts TB from them will be more likely end up with XDR or MDR TB. And that’s not the only infection one can get when HIV positive. You can stand up for your rights, and we should support such efforts, but the truth is the truth, and one cannot isolate the fact the HIV does not spread a certain way – unfortunately for you and those around you, HIV brings along a whole lot of infectious agents into the picture that can spread easily and be very hard to treat, such as XDR TB. So what would you say if you got TB tomorrow, gave it to someone without knowing it, and they died from the TB? Your wish to stay at a hostel should be weighed against the possibility of a risk to people’s lives, and no all those pamphlets people are reading about just HIV transmission are missing out these details that only a medical person would, and should think of. Good luck in your efforts and I seriously do hope that neither you nor anybody close to you should get TB or any other condition that can kill someone.

  5. My Dear Sister, You have great courage and its showing multi obstacles but never mind that these society doesn’t know what is proper lifeline. But you came front of the people and God + Good People should help you. we stand with you..

  6. Since no one is going to die if one get infected there is no point in discriminating that person. There should be a campaign for this among the people. Everyone still thinks that it is a death sentence. Thats why they condemn the persons got infected. This should be changed then only persons like this girl can live peacefully. God bless you Akshara.

  7. Hiv is no more a deadly disease as it was when detected initially. Presently there are good medicines to control it and keep within limit. In near future there is a scope for a cure and scientists are working out day and night for a cure. People should not worry that if they contract they will die. It is not the case now. Infected persons can live longer as a normal person if they take the medicines properly. Please do not discriminate those who got infected. This girl’s courage is amazing. To be appreciated.

  8. Dear,
    The passion which having by you is good and it is to be appreciated one by all, also don’t live for society and try to live for you and your family but try keep your circumstance to happy !! I think you might be the great example for others those who suffered in same disorder.

    Simple Request to People is “Let Us Live and Let them Live”.

  9. really you are very brave girl keep it up and continue ur study its very shemeful whos parantes are doing like this god will help u

  10. Akshara, you are an amazing person. Keep smiling, there are millions out there who support you.I’m one amoung them You are my Favorite……..Need any help plz mail me I will definetlty help u

  11. Still we are not fit to accommodate ourselves & keep pace with the medical science, I am confident she will come with flying colours.My blessing is with You,Akshara.

  12. We need to hate the disease not the patient. We must to find cure of the disease instead of get rid from the patient.

  13. Akshara, Request you to Feel Our Heartily Support for your Each and Every Decision. Still in any other way if you need any Help.. Please Most welcome.

  14. What a sweet girl! She has every right to stand up for herself. The fears about others getting infected by casual contact are completely unfounded and come from backward people. You cannot demand to shape others’ lives just because you’re intolerant and uneducated. The authorities responsible for kicking her out of the hostel should be made to compensate her for the mental anguish the experience must have caused. Always stay strong Akshara, you’ll never be short of love and support from every decent, educated person.

  15. even if you are HIV + , you can live a full life span like other normal people , u just have to follow your medication ,if properly followed anti retrieval therapy doesnt lead HIV + to AIDS & even they can have normal HIV free kids

  16. Do not be afraid of outside force the courage within you will see you thru – I salute your courage very few people have this – don’t let any one snatch this from you – Prayers and good wishes always my girl

  17. Dear Akshara,

    Being a citizen of the most lierate State of India, it is with great shame that I write this. The treatment and the attitude of the college is appalling. However, the support you have received gives us hope that humanity still survives. If the citadel of education, where we are supposed to learn humanity, kindness, tolerance apart from our curriculm subjects does this, I would not like my kids to be part of this. You have come through a lot of sufferings especially the social stigma attached to it. Dear Sister, I am blessed with two wonderful daughters and their life will be enriched by your struggles. May the All Mighty shower you and your supporters with his most valuable blessings and sincerely pray to the All mighty to extend his healing hands upon you.

  18. Bravo akshara. You are an amazing person. And certainly brave one, you have taken the right stand. I hope adminstration of your college realize their mistake soon. Not only you are fighting for your own right, but for others as well who are in similar situation in India. Respect to you.

  19. We have to show trust in her life, as it is she is suffering for no fault of hers. Please deal with her with love & patience.

  20. Well done why don’t you share this on social media like Facebook I’m sure you will find more encouragement & support

  21. Hats of to you Madam…..Your one Bold step should turn-around the people’s mind set….. God Bless you…

  22. You are far above anyone dear. You have the attitude. You are a winner. Study with an aim to make yourself do high that all people look up to you as role models

  23. Dear sister Akshara cheer up. . !! 🙂 🙂 It’s disturbing to know that people are making you to feel different from others. . But remember those are just a few narrow minded people. . And as for the rest of us we are always beside you to pat for your enthusiasm towards studies and those guts on taking up the issue to public without concealing your identity. . !! You are one proud daughter of India. . !! 🙂 🙂
    My best wishes for your studies and a successful career. . !! 😀 😀

    And as for those narrow minded people note it down-

    * The virus won’t spread by sharing the same rest room.
    * Hugging, kissing and sharing the food too don’t spread the virus.
    * While coughing when the near by person gets in contact with the saliva, that saliva do not spread the virus.
    (Source- I have seen these info in pamphlets and wall posters at a military hospital).

  24. Dear sister Akshara cheer up. . !! 🙂 🙂 It’s disturbing to know that people are making you to feel different from others. . But remember those are just a few narrow minded people. . And as for the rest of us we are always beside you to pat for your enthusiasm towards studies and those guts on taking up the issue to public without concealing your identity. . !! You are one proud daughter of India. . !! 🙂 🙂
    My best wishes for your studies and a successful career. . !! 😀 😀

    And as for those narrow minded people note it down-

    * The virus won’t spread by sharing the same rest room.
    * Hugging, kissing and sharing the food too don’t spread the virus.
    * While coughing when the near by person gets in contact with the saliva, that saliva do not spread the virus.
    (Source- I have seen these info in pamphlets and wall posters at a military hospital).

  25. Dear sister Akshara cheer up. . !! 🙂 🙂 It’s disturbing to know that people are making you to feel different from others. . But remember those are just a few narrow minded people. . And as for the rest of us we are always beside you to pat for your enthusiasm towards studies and those guts on taking up the issue to public without concealing your identity. . !! You are one proud daughter of India. . !! 🙂 🙂
    My best wishes for your studies and a successful career. . !! 😀 😀
    And as for those narrow minded people note it down-

    * The virus won’t spread by sharing the same rest room.
    * Hugging, kissing and sharing the food too don’t spread the virus.
    * While coughing when the near by person gets in contact with the saliva, that saliva do not spread the virus.

    (Source- I have seen these info in pamphlets and wall posters at a military hospital).

  26. Very brave girl, very proud of you, it is not your fault that you are HIV, it is society’s fault, may God bless you, we are praying for you

  27. Great job Akshara! I’m sure you will be a a good inspiration to people facing similar plight and for people to be sensitive and sensible. God Bless.

  28. With today’s medication, IF you have access to it. you can live a a long life. HIV does not transmit itself through anything, outside of sexual contact or blood transfusion from a HIV patient. Ignorant people need to be educated. The college should stand by this girl and make this a teaching moment. Shameful that they have failed her.

  29. There is a big misconception about HIV+ people in India that they can infect others just by coming in contact with them. On behalf of every Indian, I would like to express my gratitude towards Ms. Akshara who decided to come out and expressed her experience in order to fight discrimination against HIV+ people. If you can change at least one person’s perception towards HIV+, it will be amazing!

  30. There is a big misconception about HIV+ patients in India that they can infect others by coming in contact with them. On behalf of all the Indians, I would like to express my gratitude to you Ms. Akshara for coming out and speaking about your experience. If you can change at least one person’s perception towards HIV+ patients, it would be a big deal.

  31. courageous and kind of setting up a milestone in our society. Dont know whats for you in your future but right now I guess you are a hero for a lot of people for breaking up so many boundaries. Time has come for India to stand up and take care of people like you, to stop discrimination, and for government to set up some sort of social welfare fund where you can be take care of. If I ever demand reservation for anyone, it is going to be for you dear.

  32. Such a brave young lady – se’s fighting the greatest war there is – against ignorance.
    If her education comes to a halt because ignorance is allowed to prevail, there’ll really be nothing to celebrate in India anymore.

  33. Akshara, you are an amazing person. Keep smiling, there are millions out there who support you.I’m one amoung them You are my hero!

  34. Akshara is really the bravest girl. We can assume that how much pain does she have. Though facing many obstacles, she still wants to study. That is really courageous and should be appreciated. We should put ourselves in her position. I think that if I were she, it would have been very difficult for me. I believe it is difficult for her. But her mental strength makes her to stand against all these high tidings.
    Tomorrow as we celebrate Women’s day, why can’t we support this girl and portray as the iconic symbol of women’s strength. She is a victim of her circumstances. Let us join together and support her.
    I assured my prayers, dear sister. I am ready to stand with you my sister.

  35. Being HIV+ is not a crime in our country. You certainly deserve your rightful access to the hostel as well as the college. The teachers and principals along with the district administration should focus on creating awareness about HIV not being contagious.
    I admire your stand in this matter. I am willing to help you in whichever way possible.

  36. In a highly literate state awareness of HIV as non-contagious is very low. People are well aware of the fact that HIV is only spread though bodily fluids and not by random physical contact. But still there is a lingering subconscious fear that cannot easily be removed. The courage of this young girl has to be appreciated. I hope the district administration and school authorities are able to convince the other parents and teachers that HIV is not highly infectious and that she is in no way responsible for her plight and needs every type of encouragement and support to deal with the hard blow that fate has dealt her.

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