30 November, 2020

Positive Matches

India's only marriage bureau for HIV-positive people brings some hope back in their lives

Dinesh Parab
Positive Matches
Twenty-six-year-old Gopika glows like any bride-to-be. Later this year, she will be married. Her parents have gifted her gold jewellery; she has bought her first trousseau sari; and now she and fiance Vishal are planning a hill-station honeymoon. None of the 1,000 guests expected at their wedding will guess at the terrible secret the soon-to-be newlyweds have learnt to hide so well: both of them are HIV-positive.

"For us, marriage isn't about starting a new life. It's about living what life we have left to the fullest," says Gopika, summing up the rationale behind Mumbai's only marriage bureau for HIV-positive people, run by HIV-positive people. It is believed to be the only such marriage bureau in the country.

"No one understands better than we do the value of being married," says Shabana Patel, founder of NTP+, short for Network in Thane by People Living with HIV/AIDS. This community-based organisation in Thane, a suburb of Mumbai, has been running a marriage bureau—Jeevansathi—since April 2006 to help people with HIV find...


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