At the Motor Vehicles Department of Regional Transport Office (RTO), Anil Valiv manages his time between planning an ultra-modern driving test track at Aland and checking vehicle registrations to issuing licences. Despite the heavy workload, Valiv ,who took charge as Deputy Regional Transport Officer three months ago, continues to play cupid by helping HIV positive people tie the knot.
This officer was so moved by a friend's death due to AIDS that in 2006 he decided to start a free-of-cost matrimonial website for HIV positive people. Since then he has prepared a database of more than 5,000 such persons.
"Ten years ago it was extremely difficult for a HIV positive person to speak openly about his/her problem. Stigma and discrimination persists and we wanted to bring a change in the their lives," says Valiv.
With over 200 marriages, three international ones, Valiv admits it has been a daunting task. "Such was the discrimination against an HIV positive individual in the 90s that it was impossible for the person to seek treatment, let alone get married. Imagine the level of discrimination, my friend who hailed from a well-to-do family had only a handful attending his funeral. It still continues to haunt me that he could not get married because of HIV," says Valiv.
Valiv met a surgeon from Ratnagiri who got infected with HIV during a surgery who later set up an NGO to help the affected lot.
With the help of the civil hospital, Valiv started a lab testing facility at the RTO office and counselled truck drivers who were a high risk group on both road safety andAIDS. At least 65 new cases of HIV infection were detected after testing 1,000 blood samples. "We also realised the seriousness of the situation when young men infected with HIV said they would resort to desperate measures if they could not get married," he recalled. www.positivesaathi.com, the website, soon had people with HIV via NGOs and doctors posting their pictures and information online. A helpline number 9881104087 was also provided so that misconceptions about HIV could be dealt with. Valiv organised several camps where the couples could interact with each other and here it was pointed out that HIV was not the end of life and that a new beginning could be planned.
While it was not possible to keep track of the number of marriages that took place via the website, several couples have told Valiv that after treatment they were able to have a child who was not HIV positive. In Pune too Valiv plans to focus on his mission of getting HIV people married and organise a get-together of such people.
27 Sep 2013