Celebration Coimbatore District HIV Ullor Nala Sangam organised a festive evening for HIV positive children

F or Vignesh, Deepavali is all about new clothes, a special luncheon cooked by his grandmother, sweets, and of course, firecrackers.

The loquacious 11-year-old declared, “I want to become an IAS officer. I've already started with the preparations.” Vignesh is HIV positive.

Having lost both his parents to the disease, he now lives with his grandmother.

This Deepavali is a special one for children like him, thanks to CDHUNS (Coimbatore District HIV Ullor Nala Sangam).

A week ahead of the festival, the committee organised Deepavali celebrations for people living with AIDS and children infected and affected by HIV. The Coimbatore Multi-purpose Social Service Society hall was all charged up as clothes, firecrackers and sweets were distributed. Students from Sri Krishna Arts and Science College handed out greeting cards. Little Kavitha set the tune for the evening's festivities with her dance.

Normal lives

Watching from a distance, her mother Suganthi, a sathunavu teacher said, “She choreographed the dance herself and perfected it in two days.” Kavitha is HIV positive, so are her brothers and mother.

In to their fifth year of Deepavali celebrations, Meenakshi, president of CDHUNS said, “CDHUNS aims at improving the lives of those affected by HIV. Our efforts are directed at helping them receive what is rightfully theirs. We link them to service deliveries and organise medical checkups for opportunistic diseases like tuberculosis once in six months. We wish to empower each one of our members, educate them about personal hygiene and the treatment options available.”

Health insurance

CDHUNS was successful in obtaining health insurance from Star Health Insurance for about 106 people affected by HIV in Coimbatore district. The committee also undertakes education support programmes by distributing free textbooks and uniforms for children infected and affected by HIV, according to Meenakshi.

She added that, “HIV is always associated with loss of life. There is a social stigma attached to it. We want to break it; the celebration is our way of expressing that we too can lead a normal life.”

(Some of the names have been changed on request)

AKILA KANNADASAN

CDHUNS aims at improving the lives of those affected by HIV Meenakshi, president

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