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Once shunned, she now educates people about AIDS

Wednesday December 01, 2010 07:27:38 PM, Pradipta Tapadar, IANS

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Kolkata: Her husband died just two years after marriage and the young 22-year-old found that he had transmitted the HIV virus to her. It was the beginning of a lone battle against the stigma attached to AIDS for Farzana Begum, who has now dedicated her life to educating society about the disease.

The naive, romantic Farzana was married off in 1998. However, she did not have the remotest idea that her husband was carrying the deadly HIV virus.

It was only two days before her husband's death in 2000 that she came to know that he was suffering from AIDS and had transmitted the virus to her.

"At the time of marriage, my in-laws had kept my husband's HIV positive status a secret. I came to know about his disease just two days before his death. I got to know that he had transmitted the virus to me. I was totally shattered and clueless about what to do," Farzana told IANS.

Her ordeals snowballed. Farzana's in-laws accused her of transmitting the HIV virus to her husband and treated her as an untouchable. They even threw her out of her husband's house and denied her access to his property.

Farzana, now 32, decided to fight the lone battle against the injustice.

"My in-laws treated me as an untouchable. They abused me and even forced me to leave my husband's house. They sold my husband's property without my consent," she said.

"I hired a lawyer and a case is on right now. Now, I am staying at my husband's house," she said.

In 2002, Farzana enrolled herself at the Kolkata Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (KNP), an NGO which not only supported her in battling the deadly disease but also encouraged her to live life with a new vigour.

"During my association with KNP I earned some money after working in some of the programmes conducted by them in collaboration with government agencies. My parents also support me financially," she said.

"I have dedicated my life to spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS and the modes of transmission of the disease and measures to prevent it. My life has been ruined but I don't want anyone else to suffer because of the disease," said an emotional Farzana.

She now works as a volunteer with the Bengal Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (BNPL), an NGO based in Kolkata, hoping to make a difference to the lives of the 3.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.
 


(Pradipta Tapadar can be contacted at pradipta.t@ians.in)

 


 

 

 

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