AIDS does not stop him from helping others

AIDS does not stop him from helping others


Ganesh Acharya, 24, came to India from Nepal when he was seven-year-old for treatment of HIV AIDS.

He acquired the deadly virus on account of child sexual abuse where a close relative forced him on the child. Coming from a poor economic background, the family sold off its only house in Nepal to take Acharya to Mumbai.

“I did not know till I was 13 years old what I was suffering from. I used to get ill, especially with jaundice all the time. However, I used to find it peculiar that people including family members would not touch me to check my fever levels. Today I know it was due to the stigma attached with the disease,” said Acharya.
He has been on the first-line treatment for HIV for 18 years and leading a normal life. He works for the India chapter of Medicines Sans Frontiers, an international medical aid organisation. Having been abandoned by his own elder brother after landing in Mumbai, he spent years in charity homes or on roads. 

“The cost of medicines itself was high. Till year 2000 I could take medication for only few months a year as the drugs for complete year would cost Rs 20,000 or so. Then Indian companies started making generic drugs and the cost reduced to Rs 1,000 a month,” said Acharya. Fighting for his son’s life, Acharya’s father succumbed to fatal heart attack in 2004. Ironically, the same year proved to be a boon for Acharya as he started receiving medicines for free provided by the Indian government.
“Since 2004 I have been taking the medicines regularly. The quality of medicines has also improved and I live without side effects now,” added Acharya. A confident person, he has become a source of help to his brother.

“My brother’s right ear-drum has stopped working. Now he is dependent on me for the treatment,” said a proud Acharya. Having gained 18 kg weight in the past five years due to strict dietary regulation and exercises, he conducts workshops to educate people about AIDS.

“There are many myths attached with the disease. I tell patients and their family members how to fight the disease. The most common mistake people make is to leave medicine halfway. This is very dangerous as improper medication forces a patient to second-line of treatment which is more painful,” said Acharya, who was barely saved from getting to second-line treatment.
“Indian government still does not provide treatment for the third-line of treatment which costs Rs 20,000 to 25,000 a month. Even the diagnosis costs Rs 30,000 which is unaffordable to most infected as they come from lower strata of society,” added Acharya.
He said if India signs treaties with developed nations which make drugs for HIV AIDS,  the drugs will get costlier. And many people will find it impossible to ever be treated.