In the mid-2000s, several NGOs in Bengaluru that were working with people who had HIV held a series of discussions on the problems that the community was facing. Through these discussions, activists became aware of a major challenge that they were struggling with: housing.
In 2009, in response to the NGOs’ demands, the state government sanctioned 160 homes for members of the community.
But though this should have been a triumph, when residents actually moved into their houses, they realised to their dismay that in many ways their lives would be more difficult than before. The homes were located so far from the city that accessing basic facilities, healthcare and work became an almost insurmountable challenge. And the fact that the entire colony was allotted to members of the community made them the target of even more focused discrimination.
Johanna Deeksha visited the colony and spoke to residents and activists about how they navigated these new struggles that they encountered.
“Despite all the awareness programmes, films and discussion on HIV, it worried me that people living with HIV still have to take extreme measures in order to hide their disease,” Deeksha said. “It still carries massive amounts of stigma. Researching this story also made me realise that welfare schemes don’t always take enough effort to ensure that the target group’s needs are fully taken into account.”