My name is Rajkumar Singh and I live in Dehradun with my wife and two children. I used to be dependent on drugs. I started taking drugs from the age of 14. I began injecting drugs along with my friends just for fun. But as time passed, it became a need. Without it, I used to find something amiss; like something’s missing from my life. I started feeling that I won’t survive without using drugs.
It was the greatest mistake of my life because this habit had not only destroyed my life, rather it had destroyed my relationships as my family members and children went away from me. My neighbours used to shun me. I had no one with whom I could share my problems and express my emotions.
One day, Poonam Didi (Peer Counselor) and Manisha Madam (Project Coordinator) of UKNP+ (Partner of Alliance India) came to my house for follow-up. They asked me about my condition as I was registered in Pre-ART LFU (Lost to follow up), but I didn’t want to talk with them because I felt that they are just doing their job and nobody was trying to understand my problem.
I had this feeling that everybody was against me. No one wanted me as a part of their life because I was stealing money, jewellery from my wife’s purse. I even stole money from my child’s piggy bank (Gullak) to buy drugs. Whenever I didn’t use to get money from my family, I use to abuse them and even beat my wife, mother, and father. But when I realized that the team of UKNP+ was there to understand my problems, a smile came to my face along with the feelings of shame. It was a moment of reckoning for me.
I used to call Poonam Didi after that and share that several times my family wouldn’t give me the money to visit ART Centre. I used to have suicidal thoughts. But the reality was that my wife used to give me the money, which I instead used for purchasing drugs. I did try to attempt suicide several times. My family members used to contact Poonam Didi to counsel me at such times.
And this routine continued for many days. One day, they both came to my house and said sarcastically, “Why are you still alive, why are you not committing suicide; why are you bent upon destroying the life of the entire family?” My violent attitude had a negative impact on my children. I realized that I had ruined the chances of a happy life. I had become a curse for my family. I realized that if I didn’t change my life then it will create more problems in the future.
The UKNP+ team usually visited my house. So, one day, I called Manisha Madam to start my treatment and enquired about the process. She suggested me to come to the ART centre. Thereafter, I went to the ART Centre where the doctor referred me for a routine test and after completing all the formalities and testing, I got enrolled in ART the very next day. Even UKNP+ linked me to the Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) because I required them to leave drugs.
Because of starting ART medication and quitting drugs simultaneously, I faced mental unstableness, itching, vomiting, and many other withdrawal symptoms. UKNP+ team usually visited my house and gave information about the importance of ART adherence and side effect management. They even motivated me through the phone to stay in ART and not to relapse into drugs. UKNP+ also conducted the periodic TB screening and HIV test of my wife and children.
I have not gone to my previous life after that because I want to erase those memories from my life and live happily with my family. As per my wish, I am now living a happy life with my family where my children, wife, and family members love me a lot.
I would like to thank the team of UKNP+ especially Poonam Didi (Peer Counselor) and Manisha Madam (Project Coordinator) for their generous guidance and support and for giving me the gift of a new life with my family. They care for me as they are like my family. They always remind me to collect the ART medication and go for tests. Because of the support and follow up of UKNP+, I have never skipped my single ART dose and as a result, my viral load is suppressed now. I am regularly taking my OST medication as well.
Vihaan programme of Alliance India enhances treatment adherence and retention in HIV care for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in India. The programme serves nearly 1.4 million PLHIV through its 319 Care and Support Centres spread across 28 states and 4 union territories in India.
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