Patna/Nalanda: Through Innumerable AIDS campaigns, you might be aware the ways in which one can contract the dreaded disease. But despite being a woman, an AIDS affected patient Lalita Devi is taking the campaign to the truck drivers amongst others.
Lalita Devi runs HIV awareness campaign among truck drivers and also holds awareness session at a local dhaba in Nalanda, Bihar. Lalita herself is an AIDS patient and her husband succumbed to AIDS an year ago.
"Ye batate hai char karan se AIDS se failta hai – youn sambandha banane se, ek hi syringe se sui lene se, bina jane hue khun chadhane se, garbhawati mahila se uske bachhe ko; garva main bache se HIV nahi failta hai. Saath rahne se, saath khane se, chumban lene se, sachiwalya jane se aur uthne baithne se, ek saath kaam karne se nahi failta. (I say that AIDS may spread through four means – unprotected sex, using common needle for injections, transmission of contaminated blood and during pregnancy, from infected mother to her child. The virus does not spread from touching, using the same bathroom, kissing, working or eating together," said Lalita Devi.
She spends her day on roadside dhabas, sticking posters and distributing condoms among truck drivers, the most vulnerable community of all. She also takes a trip to nearby villages to talk to families, apart from spending time with other patients.
"Abhi madad ye karti hai ki batati hai – ye karna hai, ye nahi karna hai, ye khana – sharir acha rahega (She used to tell what to do, what not to do, what to eat to stay healthy)," said Girija Devi, another AIDS patient.
The dreaded HIV virus has affected her physically but not her fighting spirit. Instead of sulking down Lalita is fighting back though it's a lone battle. And once subjected to social ridicule, Lalita is now the darling of all.
"Saab koi baithate hai, saab koi bolte hai, sang rahte hai – Pahle ghrina karte, log bhagte hai. Jab se sanstha main kaaam karti hai koi ghrina nahi mangte. (Everyone has accepted her now. People were earlier repulsed but now everyone's attitude has changed)," said Lalita's mother-in-law Jimanti Devi.
Lalita, no doubt, is an inspiration for others fighting this disease, which has, in recent times, become one of India's most dreaded enemies.
(With inputs from Sahboob Alam and Nikhil Dev)