In a first, the BMC is helping to organise a matrimony mela for HIV+ individuals in the city. The mela will be held on September 5 at the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society office in Wadala, with the help of NGO Positive Saathi.
A couple, both HIV+, tie the knot on World AIDS Day. File pic
About 60 men and 35 women have already registered for it and the organisers are expecting the numbers to swell further. There are several NGOs and websites in the city that help HIV+ patients do away with the stigma and find emotional support by means of a life partner.
Their work is founded in the belief that even these patients have the right to lead a normal life. There have been several success stories in the past where two HIV+ patients have gotten married and started a family.
There are even rare cases where one partner who is negative has agreed to marry a person who is positive. But rarely has the BMC stepped into this arena.
The right platform
“This time we decided to extend our support towards the cause,” said Dr Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer of the BMC.
“The objective is to give these people a platform to find a life partner. We want them to believe that they too can lead a normal life, start a family and have a companion who understands their needs. This initiative will encourage HIV+ patients to dispel the stigma.”
According to Keskar, 60 men and 35 women, all HIV+, have registered themselves for the initiative so far. People can register even on Friday or simply walk in on Saturday. Anil Valiv, the founder of Positive Saathi which is a matrimonial website exclusively for HIV+ people, said, “I am glad the BMC has gotten involved in this initiative.
When we do things on our own, our resources are limited since we are only a web portal. But when public agencies get involved, our offline network strengthens.” When asked about the response, Valiv said the response is average. The general response to such melas is between 100 and 150 and rarely does it cross 200. He expects the numbers to increase on D-day.