Affording and accessing treatment was a key theme of the December 2012 Through Positive Eyes workshop held in Mumbai, India. Many participants in the workshop told of scrambling to afford medication, needing to share doses with family members in order to scrimp and save, or facing egregious stigma from medical workers at government hospitals. Another focus of the group’s discussions was the blatant injustice of unknowing young women being brought into arranged marriages with HIV-positive husbands. Two faith leaders—one Hindu, one Christian—took the opportunity offered by the workshop to publicly disclose their own HIV-positive status, opening important dialogues within their religious communities about the treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS.

India’s AIDS Epidemic, as of 2012

Number of people living with HIV
2.09 million

HIV Prevalence

Epidemic is concentrated in key populations, primarily sex workers and men who have sex with men, but data is not available for 2012.

Adults (15–49 years)
0.28%

Treatment

Free antiretroviral treatment is available but access is not universal.

Numbers on treatment
630,000
% of those needing treatment who are receiving it
36%

Key Events

1986
The first cases of HIV diagnosed, among female sex workers.
1987
The first government National AIDS Control program begins.
2001
Cipla, a generic medicines producer in India, offers treatment for less than a U.S. dollar a day.

Update 2019

In 2017, there were 2.1 million Indians living with HIV. HIV prevalence was higher among female sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and injecting drug users (1.6 %, 2.7%, 3.1% and 6.3% respectively). 56% of Indians living with HIV were on treatment.

In 2018, homosexuality was decriminalized as a result of a prolonged campaign by LGBTQI and human rights activists. In the same year, legislation criminalized discrimination against people with HIV.

Anthony

Anthony

There was a girl who came into my life. She had another boyfriend with whom she was in love but, whenever she fought with him, she would come to me and tell me, “I have left him.” Finally, one day she …

Dolly

Dolly

I am a Hindu Punjabi. I was adopted by a Muslim family. And I am transgender. I have faced many difficulties in my life. I had an accident. My mother could not handle seeing how injured I was. She …

Fatima

Fatima

My husband found out about his HIV-positive status in 1997. He was already in the advanced stages of AIDS and was in a very critical state. He died of cryptococcal meningitis in 2000. When my husband …

Gautam

Gautam

When I was in the fourth grade, I realized I was attracted to men. I was quite confused at the time. I didn’t understand whether it was an illness or whether I was the only person facing this issue. W …

Hari

Hari

In 1994, I was diagnosed HIV-positive. When I heard this, it was a big blow. The body language of the person who informed me of this news indicated that he didn’t even think of me as a human being. I t …

Jyoti

Jyoti

After finding out I was HIV-positive, I was very afraid of the stigma, the discrimination, and how I was going to face society. My health started to fail. I was very tired, so I was not able to do …

Manisha

Manisha

The truth is the truth. I tell everyone that I am HIV-positive, especially those who are close to me. “If you want to be with me, that’s fine. If not, you can happily leave. It is not a problem for me. …

Pastor Shimray

Pastor Shimray

I am a religious leader, a pastor, in Manipur, India. I was brought up in a Christian boarding school and belong to a Baptist denomination. There was a time in my life when my relationship with the …

Priya

Priya

When I told my husband that the hospital informed me I am HIV-positive, he said, “How have you contracted HIV? Who have you been with? My children don’t have it and I don’t have it.” And with these words, …

Raju

Raju

When I found out that I was HIV-positive,my life went dark. Two years after I got married, my wife and I were unable to have a child. I was diagnosed with low sperm count. At the hospital I had a …

Renukah

Renukah

After I was engaged, my future husband told me that he was HIV-positive. He did not know whether he contracted HIV in a hospital when he broke his foot and there was blood, or from taking drugs. He …

Sudesh

Sudesh

I have faced a lot of problems. In 2005, my wife died—of non-AIDS-related causes—and I thought, “What have I got in life other than misfortune?” I distanced myself from everyone and was very worried that my …

Suman

Suman

I got married when I was sixteen. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was tested for HIV and found out I was positive. I’m sure my husband already knew his status, because when the hospital a …

Swami

Swami

Being from Reunion Island, a French territory in the southwest part of the Indian Ocean, I was raised in a Christian family. As an adult, I converted to Hinduism. Life took me that way. Similarly, …

Supporters

Through Positive Eyes in Mumbai was organized in partnership with MAKE ART/STOP AIDS and Godrej Industries. Major funding was provided by The Herb Ritts Foundation, with additional support from the Heroes Project, Gere Foundation, and UCLA.