The truth is the truth. I simply cannot hide my condition from others. I tell everyone that I am HIV-positive, especially those who are close to me. I tell them first. If you want to be with me that’s fine, if not you can happily leave. It is not a problem for me.
Around two months after my marriage, I started suffering from a sexually transmitted disease. Then I got pregnant. I had a blood test done when I was in my seventh or eighth month of pregnancy and found out I was HIV-positive. At the same time, my husband became seriously ill, and the doctors said he too was HIV-positive. I believe I contracted HIV from him, but I cannot say how this mistake happened. I tried to ask my husband about it but did not pursue it because he was very sick and greatly troubled.
During the time of the Ganapati Festival, my son died. My husband was more distressed than me by the loss of our child, and because of this stress his health worsened. He died within a month and a half.
I asked my in laws a lot for help, like a beggar. And I was kicked to the curb the same way a beggar is. I was like a drowning person clutching at straws. I was so stigmatized that I could not even kill myself.
Through my photographs, I want to say that those with HIV are not less than anyone else. We can live, we can work, we can eat, we can drink. We have the same rights as anyone else. This is important because I believe that there is discrimination towards people with HIV among those who do not have the correct information. Those who are aware about this virus do not discriminate.
Now I live my life in a carefree manner. I am completely fine. I am able to earn, to feed myself, and to stand on my own two feet. I give strength to everyone. Sometimes when I feel I am losing my courage I take advice from my elders so that I may regain my strength. It is my wish that those like me who hear my story be courageous and move forward. Everyone who finds out they are HIV-positive should immediately start getting medical treatment and take their medicine regularly.
Going forward, people should raise their hands and voices. They should not be held back by fear and oppression. And they should not believe that we have HIV because we have committed a sin.