The Network of Maharashtra By People Living With HIV/AIDS, which has 1.5 lakh members, will set up an income generation and capacity enhancement centre on January 23. Manoj Pardeshi, general secretary of the National Coalition of People Living with HIV in India, said this centre is a unique initiative that aimed to encourage persons living with HIV to be financially independent.
Anti-retroviral treatment has brought hopes and increased the life expectancy of infected individuals, but economical empowerment of the people living with HIV (PLHIV) and their family still remains a major challenge, said Pardeshi.
Inequity against women and children contribute to their poor access to services and lack of ownership of vital economic livelihood options. Women have lost property and assets after the death of their spouses or are perceived to have HIV/AIDS. They face stigma, rejection and most of the time are evicted from their homes. “We see several such cases. While we have approached several corporates for funds, this centre will be set up in association with Emcure pharmaceuticals,” he said.
The loss of vital assets and channels of support puts women/widows and their children at greater risk of other infection and exploitation, and limits livelihood options. PLHIV, especially women, experience barriers in almost every aspect of work, including pay, the type of work they are allowed to do, benefits and conditions of work.
Currently, 23.9 lakh people are infected with HIV in India, of whom 39 per cent are women and 4.4 per cent are children. (according to NACO annual report 2011-12)
For PLHIV, the ability to earn a decent living and support themselves and their families is essential. Achieving PLHIV’s economic empowerment is not a quick fix.
Creating employment opportunities through skill enhancement will not only deal with economical empowerment but also boost self-confidence of PLHIV and their family members, Pardeshi said, adding that initially Rs 20 lakh will be set aside for the training of PLHIV