HIV stands for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus. After entering the human body, it gradually destroys the immune system.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is the later stage of infection with HIV when a group of symptoms appear as the immune system becomes very weak. It can take around 8-10 years from the time of HIV infection to the stage of AIDS. HIV infected people can lead symptom–free and productive lives for years.
HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sex with an HIV infected person, transfusion of HIV infected blood or blood products, sharing of needles contaminated with HIV infected blood and from HIV infected mother to her baby – during pregnancy, during birth or after delivery through breast milk.
HIV is found only in body fluids, so one cannot get HIV through ordinary social contact like shaking someone’s hand, hugging, etc. While HIV is found in saliva, sharing cups or utensils has never been shown to transmit HIV.
Information Source: http://www.indiahivinfo.naco.gov.in/naco/content/faq-hivaids
Support for People Living With HIV (PLHIV)
Each of Aastha Parivaar’s CBOs has at least two support groups for people living with HIV, totaling 27 groups with 289 members. Groups meet each month and conduct exposure visits to various organizations that provide support in areas including nutrition, finance and legal advice. This exposure to the experiences of HIV-positive sex workers allows the CBOs to gain a better understanding of the clinical needs of these individuals.
Members of the community also have the opportunity for empowerment by nominating for positions such as Group Leader. These individuals are then responsible for the planning and implementation of support groups, mentored by professional Project Counsellors.
Aastha Parivaar also supports five HIV-positive transgender/male sex workers at two CBOs (Triveni Samaj Vikas Kendra and GAURAV). Financial support is offered to these individuals for basic living expenses including food, transport, medical costs and shelter.
Furthermore, Aastha Parivaar also implemented a Continuum of Care (CoC) system which was specifically designed to suit the needs of sex workers.
The CoC program comprised of referral network and services; including positive prevention counseling, monthly screening for opportunistic infections, clinical care, nutrition support, PLHIV support group membership and accompanied referral through ‘Buddies’ for Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) services at Government Centres.
Need-based communication material was also developed to address stigma and discrimination.