Prevention and treatment of HIV in India
The only connecting road between Calcutta and Kathmandu in Nepal goes through Raxaul in Bihar. 3000 lorries pass through Raxaul every day and many drivers take a break. Bihar is the second-poorest state of India and till 2007 had a low HIV-rate. In the meantime the virus has spread, facilitated by the great mobility between neighbouring countries and the growing drug consumption in the region.
Leading an affirmative life with HIV
HIV and Aids are integrated in the local health programmes. Dr. Vandana and her team ensure access to voluntary HIV-tests, adequate care and anti-retroviral therapy especially for deprived people but offer counselling and pastoral care as well.
Hope for infected people and their families
About 11 million people live in the catchment area of Duncan Hospital, Raxaul. Since 2009 Difäm has cooperated closely with the hospital in order to firmly establish HIV protection and medical care of Aids-patients in the daily medical routine of the hospital. Duncan Hospital offers free HIV-tests and HIV-positive patients get anti-retroviral medicines. Outpatients as well as those on the hospital wards are treated for Aids-typical infections and men and women receive education and instruction about Aids in groups or individually. These instructions not only aim at spreading knowledge and information of the disease but also at provoking a process of reflection. Not only in society HIV and Aids affected people meet with stigmatization but also in hospitals it is important to create a positive attitude among patients. Rai and his family, too, learnt how to protect themselves so as not to become infected and so they can help to take way other people’s fear of Aids and to spread necessary information.
Home care by local health assistants
In the villages around Raxaul there are educational campaigns especially for and with adolescents where condoms are distributed as well. Voluntary and specially trained local health assistants offer special programmes for the home care of Aids-patients. Difäm supports regular trainings for staff and volunteers in hygiene among other issues. The associates, among whom are HIV-positive people as well, expose themselves to social stigmatization and show affected people a new outlook on a life with HIV and Aids. The aim is for people to be able to accept their illness and live with it. Little by little self-help-groups got started where people can talk and discuss these issues freely.
Help for a normal life
Stigmatization is the reason why many HIV and Aids-affected people have no chance on the job market and so cannot pay for their treatment. To facilitate a near to normal life Difäm supports income-producing activities. For example families are given goats which provide milk and later the kids can be passed on to other affected people. The drug-addicts of the region can meet regularly in a room close to the hospital which was rented so that they have access to clean syringes and needles in order to protect themselves as well as others. Contact to staff makes exchange possible and the company of equals gives them a perspective and support; singing together and talking with each other conveys a spirit of togetherness and helps in difficult situations.