Stories about AIDS

India walking the talk with their first transgender news anchor

It is prime time bulletin on Lotus News, a satellite news channel in southern Indian town, Coimbatore. Dressed in a dark brown silk sari, 31-year-old Padmini Prakash is all set to read out the day’s headlines. In matching brown lipstick, vermilion in the parting of her hairline and a bunch of white jasmine tucked in her black curls, Padmini sports a professional charm. Her Tamil pronunciation is clear. Her intonation is perfectly timed. In less than two months, Padmini has become one of the most popular news anchors of the television channel.   But it wasn’t an easy journey for ...

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Stop criticising the Ice Bucket Challenge!

My advice, to those criticising the Ice Bucket Challenge for being a waste of water, is stop! Stop criticising long enough to understand the rare disease community and their struggles. The kind of awareness ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), has gotten over the past few weeks is the kind of well-deserved attention, I as someone who saw those closest to me suffer with a disease nobody knew off, could diagnose or had even heard off, wish and hope one day all rare diseases receive. People from all over the world have taken part in the campaign that has spread like wild fire. Celebrities ...

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Red

This piece is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The air smelled of rich extravagance as her heart pounded in her chest and banged away like a hammer. Her eyes, heavy with kajal, glanced sideways as the butler came towards her to escort her upstairs. She smiled, stood up, hoping nobody would notice her trembling fingers, and walked upstairs. Unconsciously, her fingers rose to her lips and she started biting her finger nails to calm her nerves. The butler was moving ahead of her and she had to take long strides to keep up with him, while her ...

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I was told I was being deported but not that I had AIDS

After the polio vaccination restrictions placed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Pakistan, the country is likely to face another restriction in the future. This could be due to an increasing numbers of HIV positive patients in the country. The main reason behind this increase is the growing number of Pakistanis who are being deported back to their country because they are HIV positive. “It’s entirely my fault; I am the sole reason my wife and son are inflicted with this disease” These words were spoken by an ill-fated AIDS patient, Naveed, who was deported from Dubai in 2012 when he was ...

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#WearThatYouCare: Put on those blue denims and support Rare Disease Day today!

My mother passed away exactly seven years ago. She had Huntington’s chorea which she fought for 15 years and it eventually took over her ability to talk, walk, speak and breathe. Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline. The disorder affects the brain and eventually damages mental and motor function and control. The word ‘chorea’ is a Greek word meaning dance since quick movements of the feet or hands are comparable to dancing. Disorders such as these are genetic which means that the patient’s offsprings have a 50% chance of inheriting them. For children of ...

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Polio: Can Imran Khan help defeat the ugly villain in Pakistan’s story of survival?

On October 24, 2013 when I saw polio teams entering my colony – Musharraf Colony in Hayatabad – it was the first time I knew what they had come for. They had come to save lives. I ran home to tell my mother to get my little sister vaccinated. Polio – the villain It was only the night before that I had been peeping into one of the community halls where the elderly, adults and children from the colony had gathered because we were told that some goras (foreigners) were coming to deliver a talk. I had seen one of these lectures before but this time ...

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Drugs are not the only problem

Drug use usually starts as a form of rebellion, be it against mom and dad, your own friends or society as a whole. Ease of access only increases the likelihood that someone will make an uninformed decision and light up their first joint, smoke their first bong, or worse, pick up their first needle. Pakistan is historically a hashish-smoking nation, with records of the cannabis-derived substance’s use going back thousands of years. Although some would try to deny it, drugs, at least soft drugs, are part of the local culture. From bhang and charas up to opium, Mother Nature’s gifts ...

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Is my blood not good enough for you?

I was casually walking in the Ibn Batuta Mall with a friend when I saw the Dubai Blood Donation Centre kiosk. The moment I saw it, I decided that I had to donate blood. A couple of girls sat behind the desk with hundreds of forms, while other volunteers walked around asking people to donate blood.  My friend had to look after his daughter, so he decided to wait and watch while I went to donate blood. I walked towards the desk where the females were sitting. They were busy with other donors asking different questions and filling out the forms as I ...

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Pakistan’s got AIDS patients

Acquired Immune Deficiency System (Aids) is taboo in Pakistan. Every time the topic comes up, the general attitude is one of denial with people saying that Aids does not exist in Pakistan. How could it? This is an Islamic country, and the ‘illegal, immoral’ activities generally associated with HIV/Aids are just not a part of our social fabric. According to the National Aids Control Program, about 100,000 Pakistanis are living with Aids. This number is most likely an underestimate as most patients with HIV don’t even know they are infected. One is compelled to wonder where all these cases are coming from. Like ...

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Transgender: Of sense and sexuality

I talk about AIDS, sex and sexuality. Don’t look at me that way. I, too, belong to a religious conservative family. No, I am not a non-believer. No, I do not have AIDS. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I have morals. This issue has been taboo, cursed and frowned upon. It has been buried so deep, that it is almost impossible to even think about talking of. But I do. I conduct and facilitate workshops on  HIV/AIDS awareness. ————— This is the story of two people I met a couple of weeks ago. They both liked boys. They were both shy, and could not speak at ...

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