Kumar is blind as a result of AIDS complications. He has two children and a wife who abandoned him. He is cared for at Snehadaan, a Christian AIDS Hospice run by Sisters, Fathers and Brothers. Many of the care centers in India are Christian-based facilities that became exclusively AIDS focused when the demand became overwhelming.
Prasad, age 30, was a taxi driver who loved reciting poetry. His younger brother got married in the spring and so his family sent him to an AIDS hospice so no one would know he was sick. This is where he died.
Rubber gloves are laid out to dry, in preparation for another use. Though Africa has by far the worse percentages of AIDS/HIV infection rates, many researchers think that in terms of sheer numbers, India ranks first.
At CHES orphanage, 60% of the children are HIV positive as well as the workers. In the baby room, cries or laughter are rarely heard. AIDS orphans are a rising concern, and account for approximately 3% of infection rates.
Lucy's father died two years ago of AIDS. Her mother, Sushila, is also positive but Lucy has not been tested. Her older sister, Wey, is healthy, but Lucy and Movi are often sick and must stay in bed.
The NGO Helping Hands maintains a special ward for children infected with the disease yet they lack money for medicine or treatment.
People have an HIV education demonstration in the street. Historically the government has been resistant to AIDS awareness and education programs and saw the disease as a threat to only prostitutes, drug users, and men who had sex with men.
At Gilead's Balm, a Christian based heroin detox center in Manipur, India new patients are chained to prevent escape. The longer their stay, the more links are added to the chain. The program, which lasts two years, is immensely popular with the community and is entirely locally funded. Their motto is "Chaining is changing."
Raju contracted HIV through needle-sharing and for the last four months has been unable to speak or move. His wife, Assalata, does all his care-giving and says she is, "Not brave enough to test herself." They have been married for two years.
Shobha and her father wait at Asha Kirana, an HIV clinic. Shobha is 19 and has been married for little over a year. She is seven months pregnant and positive. Her husband, a truck-driver, does not want the child. One month later, Shobha will abort her child, leave her husband and return to her family.
As most Indians can not afford HIV/AIDS medicine they can only treat the symptoms of the disease. This is beginning to change as the Indian government has started a program which distributes free ART in five states. However, many people think the policy is too restrictive as the medicine is only given to children and to patients with seriously compromised immune systems.
Helping Hands, a social service organization in India, takes in people who have been rejected by society. This includes the mentally and physically ill, the elderly, orphans, and HIV/AIDS patients. Gowri is both mentally ill and HIV positive, believed to be due to rape.
Heroin and needle use is common in NE India which borders Burma and is a major drug route. HIV levels in this area are some of the highest in the country. Many social service organizations have begun needle exchange programs to reduce the spread. Kola will sometimes steal to get the 50 rupees (approx. one dollar) he needs to fix.
A strip of "rubber goods" stores in Calcutta. Many people in India are embarrassed to buy condoms and have no knowledge of how to use them.
According to India's National AIDS Control Organization, their infection rates hover around 5 million. However, most AIDS NGOs say that these numbers are deliberately underreported and that a more likely figure is double that.
Many NGO's perform condom demonstrations for truck drivers, a high-risk group for HIV. When the disease first became an issue in India, areas of higher incident rates could be traced along truck routes.
Rina, 28, became a prostitute after her manager at a cosmetics company pressured her for sex in exchange for a promotion. "I have no past, my only identity is a sex worker." Her mother is also a sex worker. Many people cite lack of empowerment for women as a major cause of HIV/AIDS in India.
Many sex workers in Calcutta are part of The Sonagachi Project which started in 1992 as a STD/HIV intervention.
Sibani, a commercial sex worker in Calcutta and her Babu, who acts as both husband and pimp. Sibani became a prostitute because a man she fell in love with sold her for money. She has an eight-year-old daughter. Sibani says that she knows all about AIDS and tries to use condoms but sometimes her clients refuse.
Leinhmar, 30, has been injecting drugs for 16 years and is now HIV positive. He originally started because of peer pressure and says even though he wants to he can't stop. He used to work as a rickshaw driver but can no longer walk because of abscesses on his legs. AIDS rates are quite high in Northeast India due to drug use and needle-sharing.
Thanks to educational programs in India things are changing and many people are able to lead healthy, happy, and positive lives.
Odanadi is a rehabilitation home for commercial sex workers, the children of sex workers and trafficked children; high-risk groups for HIV. Many of the women are positive. The women of Odanadi take daily walks which end with a meditation session and yoga. They say this type of treatment is very common in India.
Odanadi provides its residents with housing, schooling, and attempts to reintegrate them with their families (not always with positive results).
Though some people are beginning to come out about their status, stigma keeps many silent. Some will travel to other states to receive treatment, rather than be discovered. AIDs stigma in India is still rampant and positive people are often shunned by their families and community.
Many doctors and nurses refuse to treat positive patients and lack knowledge about the transmission and treatment of the disease.