As we stand poised at the start of the second decade of the new millennia, it is time to take stock of the victories won and losses faced in the on going fight against AIDS, deadliest disease known to man till date. No other words conjure up so much revulsion, fear and despair in the human psyche than AIDS or HIV.
Human immunodeficiency virus, which originated from simian immunodeficiency viruses that infects chimpanzees, is said to have till date affected millions of people world wide which includes large number of children. Death toll runs into millions as well. People from all cultural, social and economic backgrounds are affected by AIDS which has now been declared to be a pandemic.
Our vision is to create a world where AIDS patients or HIV infected people can lead a life of dignity and freedom without any fear of rejection and violence against them. It will be the first step towards a world free of the deadly disease itself. Unless we can build a world where people are not afraid to come for HIV status tests and disclose the results for fear of rejection from family and friends we have no hope of ever preventing the onward march of AIDS which may be aptly described as the worst scourge faced by mankind till date.
Unfortunately, social stigma against AIDS and HIV infected patients is a reality that cannot be denied. It exists in all parts of the world in both developed and developing nations in various forms ranging from ostracism and outright rejection by one’s own family to discrimination in workplace and even violence in extreme cases. There are many stories of HIV infected patients being thrown out of homes, school and work and ostracized by society after their disease became public knowledge. There are horror stories about people being forced to undergo HIV tests without their consent or protection of confidentiality and of forced quarantines.