Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Madhavi Pothukuchi| December 6, 2014| 5.57 pm IST (* Names changed to protect the identity of the individuals mentioned in the story) Ramesh and Meera met at a dating event. Today, they are married and live in a small house in Pune. They have a 2-year-old son, who spends his day playing around with his mother, while Ramesh works as a driver. The dating event they met is of a different kind. Called Melava, it is a social event for HIV+ and AIDS affected individuals to meet and mingle, organized by Deep Griha Society – an NGO which helps HIV/AIDS affected people deal with the disease. Ramesh and Meera are HIV positive. The biggest relief for them is that their two-year-old son is HIV negative. The NGO, based in Pune, runs a program called DISHA – Deep Griha’s Integrated Service for HIV and AIDS. DISHA organizes Melava, every year in the month of August, which serves as platform for individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS to interact with other similar individuals and form a connection. This is very crucial, as most individuals affected with the disease are shunned by society, especially on a social level. Ramesh and Meera met at Melava in 2010, and with the help of Deep Griha, married four months later on the 1st of December, World AIDS Day. Two years later, after regular family counseling and guidance from the counselors of DISHA, they decided to have a baby. “The couple has been coming to us for counseling since 2010. We have provided them with the correct pre and post marital counseling as well as providing them with the necessary medical treatments to ensure that they have safe pregnancy and that their child is not HIV+” said Avinash Chakranarayan, the program head of DISHA. Part of the medical treatment for Meera involved Nevirapine, a drug known to help prevent HIV/AIDS from spreading from mother to child. There are other preventive methods that Deep Griha helps couples get, through their medical clinics and drives. Ramesh and Meera lead a happy life along with their completely healthy HIV- son. They are one of the many of Deep Griha’s success stories, and the NGO hopes to have many more stories in the future.

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