In My Veins

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During my visit to child care homes in Andhra Pradesh in 2014, I met several children who were orphaned or had lost one parent. Almost all of them were living with HIV. I was there to attend a meeting when these lines came flooding to me. A story of pain that sometimes made itself visible as tears flooded their big eyes, but mostly it was a subtle hint of pain that remained hidden under childish curiosity and innocence. Here goes…

In my veins is pain
Is rage
Is anger
Is shame
In my veins is death
Is disease
Is life
Is breath
In my veins is a broken road
An empty house
A flyover
A highway
In my veins are broken toys
Abandoned games
Unfinished stories
A lost childhood
In my veins are fading memories
Is longing
Is loneliness
An occasional smile
In my veins is an obscure village
Is poverty
Starving stomachs
Rotting bodies
In my veins is a long wait
Is parentlessness
Is nightmares
Is disappointments
In my veins is a death sentence
Is hospital beds
A dejected acceptance
A sanitized darkness
In my veins is HIV
Is syringes
Is pills
Is sickness
In my veins is also a wish to live
Is persistence
Is resistance
Is continuity
In my veins is my unfinished story
Is courage
Is victory
In my veins is life
The life that is free
The life of dignity
In my veins is humanity.

India has one of the largest populations of adolescents living with HIV. Every year, 50,000 new infections are reported among children below 15. There is an urgent need to ensure that infected adolescents become aware of their status and have access to effective HIV treatment and quality care programming.

With the support of many individual donors through Global Giving, our new initiative will reach 100 adolescents in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra with quality care and support services. These two states have the highest burden of adolescents living with HIV in India.

This project supports adolescents living with HIV giving them access to testing and treatment, comprehensive youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, improved linkages to other health services, and support for skill-building and income-generation activities. In the long run, the project will help reduce AIDS-related mortality among adolescents and develop new programme models to reach this vulnerable population.

You can help. Your little contribution could help improve a young life. Don’t hesitate. Click here to give now.

The author of this poem and post, Nandini Mazumdar, is Programme Officer: Sexual & Reproductive Health at India HIV/AIDS Alliance in New Delhi.

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