In Ahmedabad, India, around 200 HIV positive couples have started families, their children free of HIV infection due to medical intervention. These incredible couples show that having an STI such as HIV does not need to hinder your live.

Savita, a nurse, and Rajesh, a builder, met in the waiting room of their doctor as they went to receive treatment for HIV. They got talking, liked each other, and soon after were married. They then gave birth to a daughter, who tested HIV negative. “We are elated. A healthy child has made me forget all the wrongs that happened to me,” Savita said.

This was made possible by the ‘Gujarat Mother to Child HIV Prevention’ programme run by Ahmedabad doctors, giving hope to thousands with HIV in the region. Gynecologist Dr Riddhi Shukla says that a shift in attitudes towards HIV, with it gaining acceptability, means more partners are choosing to stay with their partners despite the infection, and the programme can help their family grow.

“A few years ago, couples would come to us stealthily but now we see parents and in-laws tagging along. The stigma is diminishing,” fellow doctor Rakesh Sharma added.

Reducing the stigma STIs carry should be a continual effort; removing the unnecessary shame that people feel when diagnosed will not only give greater happiness and opportunities to those with infections, it will also encourage people to get tested for STIs and become more responsible for their own sexual health.

Making discussion about sexual health, including STIs such as HIV, part of everyday life is one way of reducing the stigma. Being open and honest about your sexual history with any potential partners is also important, and being regularly tested for STIs means that you can take control of your own health, get treated if necessary, and carry on living your life without worry or fear. Better2Know can offer such peace of mind, offering a range of STI tests with results being delivered within one to five days.

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