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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/25/22

HIV care is essential and lifesaving, but not enough for living normal lives

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HIV care is essential and lifesaving, but not enough for living normal lives

SHOBHA SHUKLA - CNS

 Interview is online here: Click Here

Lifesaving antiretroviral therapy, as well as the full range of HIV care and support services are indeed essential but not enough to ensure that children and adolescents living with HIV can live a fully normal life. From getting education, vocational training, social and economic support, to pursuing careers of their choice and aspirations, the spectrum may differ from person to person but is surely much wider and deeper than the very essential HIV care services.

"I have been working with children living with HIV for last 20 years. They often shared with us that it is not possible for them to get a good job, or to get a good education, and that it is a difficult life to live having to be on medicines lifelong. But there were a few kids who wanted to know what they should do to get a good education, a good job, and stay healthy. So I felt that it is a choice between whether you think it is impossible or whether you can make it possible. Hence the name I'mPossible (of a fellowship programme)," said Dr Michael Babu Raj while speaking with CNS (Citizen News Service). Dr Raj is Deputy Director, I'mpossible Fellowship Programme of Sneha Charitable Trust and former Deputy Director of Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT).

He shared: "The I'mPossible Fellowship talks about the choices we have in life and the freedom to choose the way we want to lead our life. But for that we need to focus on certain things like- taking care of our health, ensuring treatment adherence, getting educated and not falling back on our studies. It is just not about attaining degrees but also learning about values of life, and of being hopeful and trustworthy. Every work in the beginning is difficult for you but it is not impossible for you. Today we have children amongst us who have taken ownership of their lives and they are moving from the 'I am Impossible' to the "I'm possible", which is becoming a reality in many children's lives."

Dr Michael Babu Raj added: "Noted thought leader Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar had said that education is empowerment so I thought of focussing on education to empower the people whom I work with. Then I came across children living with HIV while working in an HIV care centre where we were caring for the HIV positive parents and there were small kids. I felt the best thing I can do is to work with these kids because they are very special kids who are so loving and caring when we respond to them positively."

Dr Michael and his team have been collaborating with reputed institutions like Johns Hopkins University. "These children have stood out as very strong children and not as somebody who will give up without trying. If we are able to create positive spaces for them that are full of opportunities, they are going to make a big difference."

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Citizen News Service (CNS) specializes in in-depth and rights-based, health and science journalism. For more information, please contact: www.citizen-news.org or @cns_health or www.facebook.com/cns.page
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