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Meet HIV+ Pravasini, Who Turned Her ‘Curse’ To ‘Boon’

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12 March 2019

Snigdha Chandan Das

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Bhubaneswar: Pravasini Pradhan is a woman with indomitable spirtit, who not only turned her ‘tabooed disease’ into a blessing in disguise, but also worked for the betterment and assistance of people living with HIV/AIDS through her NGO Kalinga Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (KNP+) in Odisha.

Presently the president of KNP+, Pravasini's path had a very arduous and harrowing one. Nineteen years back, young Pravasini was married to a man working in a factory in Mumbai. Three years later in 2003, her husband was tested HIV positive. Her own test report also confirmed her positive of this disease. It was a great blow but toughest phase was yet to come. He husband died barely fifteen days later, leaving behind a one and half year old daughter with her.

Reminiscing her previous days, she said, “I was shunned by my in-laws who thought they would contract the disease. They didn’t even accept their grand-daughter although she tested negative. I was literally thrown out of the house in Tarimi village that falls under Chilika block of Khurda district due to the stigma attached to the disease. Back during those days, there was not much awareness regarding HIV or AIDS. I felt shattered and thought that I also will eventually die of it. I went to my parents’ place in Khordha district.”

“I met a counsellor at an Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) who laid all my fears to rest and also helped me to overcome this trauma. He also counselled my family members that it does not spread by touching or living together. I started taking tuitions and tailoring class to eke out a living but very soon the news of my disease came out in open and people started ostracising me.”

The turning point in her life came when she attended a programme organised by Odisha State Aids Control Society (OSACS). She met like-minded HIV positive people (Amarendra Behera and Ajay Samal) and the idea of Kalinga Network was conceived. There was very less facilities for the persons in Odisha who were tested positive, and they decided to do something for them. Kalinga Network for People Living With Aids (KNP) was formed in 2005 and was formally registered a year after.

“Initially, there were only 7 persons and I was the single woman. But now more than 5000 people are associated with it. We work towards better living of people afflicted with AIDS. We create awareness about the disease, share essential information regarding the schemes and facilities for the inflicted persons, etc. We got in touch with Lepra Society for free medicines, testing of our blood in Calcutta and New Delhi. By 2007, these facilities were available in Odisha too. And now in 2019, many things have changed and that too for better,” she informed.

Now KNP+ has its with centres across various districts like Sambalpur, Bargarh, Angul, Bhadrak, Puri, Koraput, Nayagarh and Kendrapara, and various projects are carried out to sensitize people and make a difference in the lives of HIV positive people and their families.

“I can proudly say that more than 15000 people are now being benefitted in Odisha through our network. We even try to employ HIV+ persons for different posts in our NGO, as per their qualifications so that they live a dignified life”.

Conferred with many awards for her outstanding work in this field, her personal life is made complete with her pillar of support, her daughter who is presently pursuing her 12th class.

With a humorous note, Pravasini signed off saying, “Interestingly, the HIV Positive Virus has a great role in my life and has bestowed me this success. I am happy and am here to stay for quite long.”

Also Read: Sons Turn Blind Eye To Ailing Mother, Woman Cries For Help In Odisha's Talcher

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Pravasini Pradhan, HIV/AIDS Patient, Founder Of Kalinga Network Of People