The hero in us

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Bhikhabhai Raval is differently-abled person due to childhood polio, now 40 years old, he is living with HIV. For the past six years, he has been working as an Outreach Worker (ORW) in Patan NP+(Gujarat), which is a District Level Network of HIV Positive People and is implementing the Vihaan Care and Support Programme implemented by Alliance India. He lives with his parents in Ranasan Village of Chansma, Taluka which is located on the outskirts of Patan District. Bhikhabhai usually visits the CSC (Care and Support Centre) using public transport. In his job responsibility as an ORW, he has to be connected with 370 PLHIV (People Living with HIV) from around 4 Talukas of Patan district named Chnashma, Harij, Sami and Shankheswar, where a majority of people living with HIV knows him very well, due to his friendly nature.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bhikhabhai found it difficult to travel around the districts since public transport facilities were unavailable which also prevented several PLHIVs to come to ART centre and access their medicines. Bhikhabhai was advised to stay at home while the other ORW’s handled the situation. This didn’t stop him from working, he explained the situation to one of his PHILV friends and they both came up with a plan to distribute the ART medication in the allocated areas using their own vehicles. Bhikhabhai’s friend was ready to go and distribute the ART medicines to all the districts that they were supposed to visit because he knew the importance of the medicine himself, and soon they started distributing the medicine without even a thought to the travel cost and other factors resulting from the lockdown.

While visiting the homes they maintained the confidentiality of the patients. During one such visit, he was stopped and questioned as to why they were visiting people in the village to which he smartly replied that they are delivering the consignments in the village and worked for a fictitious courier company.

On their journey for delivering medicines to the patients, they had to go through some tough terrain and even travel through jungles to reach the homes of the patients. Bhikabhai says that the satisfaction and happiness he observed on the faces of patients motivates him. He has reached 119 PLHIVs in his allocated area without thinking of heatwave, his physical limits, the current threat of COVID-19. We salute our “Field Hero” and their supporters.

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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