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
Targeted HIV Interventions
Aastha Parivaar conducts targeted HIV interventions with the residential bar-based sex worker populations in Malad (Mumbai), Malvani (Mumbai), and Dombivili (Thane). Our community-based organizations (Jagruti Mahila Sanstha, Triveni Samaj Vikas Kendra, GAURAV, and Asha Darpan) also conduct such interventions in their respective areas with the following goals:
- To increase awareness about HIV transmission, prevention, protection, treatment, and care.
- To shift high risk behavior patterns through Behavior Change Communication (BCC).
At all our CBOs, the community members employed as Peer Educators help support their fellow sex workers on a daily basis, encouraging them to regularly engage in STI/HIV counseling and testing.
Support for People Living With HIV
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.