AIDS policy fails to address youth
Source: The Sangai Express / Ng Liklaileima Arambam

Imphal, December 01 2011: Even though the first HIV positive case was reported in the State from among injecting drug users in 1990, the State Government is yet to make the State AIDS policy meaningful, failing to address the issue of youths with HIV.

HIV/AIDS has affected many families while a great number of children have been left orphaned.

Sanathoi (not real name) is one such youth who has not received proper education, good health, timely counselling or parenting etc, though the State AIDS policy has been implemented.

Sanathoi, now 21 years old, studied up to Class V but he cannot read or write properly.

He lost his parents to HIV.

All the assets and properties of the family were also lost in battling HIV.

Like Sanathoi, his younger sister is also living with HIV.

The big house built by his grandfather is now empty and silent.

Sanathoi and his sister are living together in the spacious house with the 74 year old grandmother.

According to the epidemiological analysis published by MACS, the number of people living with HIV in Manipur in 2011 is 38,016 including 10,109 women and 2578 children.

Out of the total number of children infected by HIV, 1378 are boys and 1200 are girls.

MACS also reported 4724 cases of AIDS infected people out of whom 658 have died.

"As I am living with HIV, I'm physically weak and I'm not properly educated.

Under such conditions, it is really hard for youths like me to struggle for life.

It would be a real blessing for us if the Government formulates a policy specifically for youths living with HIV", said Sanathoi.

"Whenever I think of my sister and myself, I cannot help curse my father because we are living with HIV today for his fault.

But now I've learnt reconciled to my fate", Sanathoi said.

Sanathoi's father expired in 1999 which was followed by the demise of his mother after a gap of only one year.

After the death of Sanathoi's parents, his elder brother disappeared without any trace and he had to give up schooling as his aged grandmother could not afford his education any more.

"As I fell ill every now and then, we went to hospital.

There the 'aunts' told us to go to Manipur Network of Positive people" .

"My sister got nutritional and educational assistance from the network.

My sister started taking ART drugs from 2004 and I started the same from 2008", Sanathoi narrated.

As is natural to all youths, Sanathoi would like to enjoy during seasonal festivals like Yaoshang but he is always forced by the harsh reality surrounding him to subdue his feelings and desires.

At present, Sanathoi is working as volunteer of MNP and he often participated in awareness programmes about HIV/AIDS where he presented himself as a living example.

As this is not enough to earn the family's livelihood, Sanathoi also works with a second-hand garments dealer.

"For women living with HIV, self-help groups have been set and they are also imparted vocational training.

But no self-help groups can be set up for men living with HIV and they are never given any form of vocational training", Sanathoi conveyed.

After HIV positive case was first detected in 1986, State AIDS Committee was formed in 1987 with the Chief Minister as Chairman.

The World Health Organisation declared December 1 as World AIDS Day in 1988 .

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