At 3 years when most children enjoy music tapping their feet to the beats, I lost my sense of hearing. My parents told me I had lost my hearing abilities due to a bike accident, but the doctors said I have been a victim of physical abuse.
When most mothers lovingly chide their baby to eat more, mine would lock it up in the fridge and reprimand maids who dared to feed me. When I was 14 years old, I realised she was my step mother.
When most husbands would rejoice the moment they hear that the wife is pregnant, mine dragged me to the abortion centre. He said, he wasn't ready financially and psychologically to be a father. I was shocked, I fought but I went through it. I underwent two more abortions. I could not use oral contraceptive pills because of reactions and the vaginal contraceptives needed 10 minutes of waiting, he never waited. He never liked using condoms. sexy style mother of the bride or groom outfits
When most HIV victims surrender to their destiny and give up, I have chosen to fight back like a true champion. In 2005, during the fourth pregnancy, a routine blood test showed that I was HIV+. I doubted my husband but he turned HIV- . I realised, I must have got it due to medical negligence. This time I decided to have my baby and had a healthy baby boy.
I moved to Bangalore for work as my husband was not providing the medicines I needed every month. Unfortunately I had to return in a month, someone told me that my husband was cheating on me. I fought but could not save my marriage. My home fell apart. The last I held my son was in 2008.
In 2011, when I was at my lowest, I found love again. There was initial resistance from his family because of the fact that I was HIV positive but then eventually they came around. We got married and my family was finally complete. But we are separated now and I have moved to Bangalore and work with a hospital here.
I have only 10% of hearing ability and the doctor has mentioned that soon I would lose the ability to hear. But I am not giving up. I am fighting back.
Today, I have found purpose. I advocate to removing the stigma associated with HIV+ people. I share my reality and dispel myths. My work in spreading awareness has brought India to the world map in HIV revolution.
I have been hated, shunned, discriminated against and stigmatised. But I have learnt to walk with dignity and with my head held high. I am a survivor, I am a brave heart and this is my story.
This World AIDS Day , let's take a pledge. Let's say no to ignorance as it leads to stigma. Let's say no to judging others. Let's say yes to Life....Live. Laugh. Love.
Jyoti Dhawale Surve