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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”





Networking of People Living with HIV/AIDS : FREEDOM/SNEHASAMILINA




It is witnessed that the number of People living with HIV/AIDS is increasing in coastal part of Karnataka particularly in Udupi and Mangalore districts. The factors attributing towards such a high incidences of HIV is poverty, ignorance, lack of education that led to migration to metros like Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune. It is evident that nearly 50% of the cases registered so far are the people who were working in Hotel/bars/ladies bars in Mumbai and Pune. The hotel workers are involved in High-risk sexual behavior.


The heinous facts about the HIV/AIDS the virus is slowly spreading in rural areas. Many innocent women and children are getting infected with this dreaded virus. It is evident that number of Women and children living with HIV/AIDS are increasing. The Freedom Foundation has been trying to address and support the issues confronted by people living with HIV/AIDS in the region in many ways. One major initiative is to help people affected by HIV/AIDS set up self help groups in a meaningful and constructive way by facilitating and creating a platform to identify and address the various challenges faced by communities that have been marginalised by the HIV/AIDS epidemic under the dynamic vision and leadership of the Freedom Foundation-India’s Executive Trustee & CEO Mr. Ashok Rau


The problems associated with People Living with HIV/AIDS are many.  They are as follows:

1)     It is evident that even today People Living with HIV/AIDS are deprived of medical care in Government Hospitals and Private hospitals.

2)     The stigma and Social discrimination associated with this appalling disease makes them to expel from the work place.

3)     It hampers the Productivity of the Individual’s, which ultimately affects his whole family.

4)     The Intermittent Morbid condition and recurring medical care, which person cannot afford.

5)     The social discrimination not only affects the person but also leaves a very bad impact on whole family. To address these issues associated with PLWHAs, it is imperative to build a network among PLWHAs.  


The objectives of these Freedom PLWHA networking groups are:

·        To bring together PLWHA together under one platform

·        To build networks among individuals living with HIV/AIDS

·        To provide a forum for an open discussion of intimate problems, which are otherwise never shared

·        The forum also addresses the recent issues on HIV/AIDS treatment like ART and various attempts made by NGO with government to make available ART in affordable rate.

·        To develop leadership and decision making qualities among PLWHAs

·        To provide both physical and financial support to all infected individuals and affected households incapable of taking care of themselves.


      The first meeting was held in 30th April 2003: 30 PLWHAs were present in this meeting. This meeting was held in collaboration with Katpady Jaycees. We had Invited District Tuberculosis Office Dr. Ramachandra Bairy was invited as a Chief guest. He addressed to all the patients and shared the efforts being made  by the government to provide treatment for the HIV/AIDS patients.

     The second meeting was held on 1st June 2003. 20 PLWHAs were present in the meeting. Dr. Krupa (Medical Officer Freedom Foundation-Udupi) shared the medical problems faced by the patients. Cousellors also addressed the patients, PLWHA group members and conducted some recreational activities for all present.

The third get together was held on 1st July 2003: 20 PLWHAs were present in this meeting. We invited Father Henry from Uchila. The main objective to incorporate spiritual leaders to address the patients who will impart soothing effects to patients. Father Henry spoken to all the PLWHA groups and explained how to cope up with the infections and societal discrimination

The Fourth meeting was held on 1st Aug 2003:.       Dr. Ravindra and Christopher Skill (General Manager Operations – Freedom Foundation –India, Bangalore) chaired the function. 30 PLWHAs were present in the meeting. Initially Dr. Ravindra addressed the patients and explained them how to lead a life with HIV. He also they can also play an important role in the prevention of HIV incidences in the community by educating the people.

Mr. Christopher Skill also spoke to all group members and explained to them efforts are on by Freedom Foundation with governments to provide ART in subsidized rate.

In all four get-together there were recreational activities like Quiz, Games, Speech etc.

Mr. Skill expressed Dr. Ashok Rau’s inability to be present at the meeting  A message from Mr. Ashok Rau was read out.

Mr. Skill presented small amounts of 1000 Rupees each on behalf of Mr. Ashok Rau and the Freedom Foundation to 50 deserving individuals and families from the PLWHA groups.


Outcome: The Outcome of this meeting is enormous and appreciating. They are as follows:

1)     More and More PLWHAs are making there presence in the meeting

2)     The forum also became a good platform to discuss the issues related to HIV/AIDS front.

3)     The recreational activities help the group to become more cohesive and close, started sharing their experiences.

4)      The members also came out with various suggestions and complaints.

5)      The members also showing keen interest in making minutes of the meeting and coming forward to address the issues in the meeting.

6)     To make sure every member of the PLWHA groups is able to access and afford quality health care including ART as and when necessary.

 Future Plans:

            Looking at current trends seen in PLWHAs get-together we are planning to make this network to grow in numbers and make it more meaningful. Following are the objectives for the next four meetings:


1)     To grow the existing group in numbers

2)     To strengthen the existing networks by providing leadership and decision making capabilities.

3)     To make the group aware about recent happenings in HIV/AIDS front.

4)     To Build the Network of PLWHAs with CBOs and NGOs to address their issues.

5)     To introduce the concept of self-help group among the new groups and its members.

6)     To continue to provide institutional support (Freedom Foundation) until the time all the groups are truly self sustaining.

7)     To facilitate support in the form of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and financial support to individuals and households that are affected by the epidemic.

8)     To ensure accessibility and affordability of quality healthcare including ART for every FREEDOM/SNEHASAMILINA PLWHA MEMBERS

9)     To develop a concrete plan to address issues of stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS