Over 205 adults and 77 youth infected/affected by HIV/AIDS who benefited from CCDT’s Home-Based Care (HBC) program, participated in the annual Family Meet to celebrate their journey of self-reliance.

India is home to the third largest number of people living with HIV in the world (UNICEF). CCDT pioneered a HBC program for families living with HIV/AIDS in Mumbai. The uniqueness of CCDT’s intervention lies in maintaining a balance between prevention, care, and support in the initiatives designed to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic on one hand, and on the other, to empower infected and affected individuals, families, and children to become self-reliant. Over 8,000 families have been served through this program since 1995.

The HBC program enables HIV/AIDS infected/affected families and their children to become self-reliant through a continuum of psycho-social, health (medical & nutrition), education, and livelihood support. After the families become self-reliant they are phased out from the program. The Family Meet provides an opportunity for these phased out self-reliant families to come together and share their experiences, especially coping strategies, and learn from one another.

Youth are particularly motivated to participate in the Family Meet. It provides them as well as the family members an opportunity to interact among each others, get to know, and build a rapport with the new staff members who joined the HBC team. The meet thus reconnect the families with the HBC program and strengthens the relationship between them. The meet also opens the window for the family members as well as the youth to feel comfortable to reach out to the HBC program if they need any support or face any crisis.

Multiple activities were planned during the meet to encourage the members to work in a team. They discussed nutrition, universal precautions, treatment adherence, government schemes, and palliative care; all of which enabled the members to refresh the information on these topics. The members also discussed the challenges they could face in the future and how it could be addressed.

Voices of the family members at the Meet on how the HBC program have made a marked difference in their lives:

“Me and my mother are HIV Positive but she passed away two years back. While she was around I was very careless and never took ART medicines on time. She always insisted, but I kept ignoring. After her death I came in contact with CCDT. Didi started regularly visiting me. She helped me realise the importance of ART medicines and why I need to consume it regularly at the same time. Now, without fail I take the medicines and other treatment on time. CCDT staff cares for me just like my mother. I cannot thank them enough for guiding me in my personal life as well as in my career,” – 18 year old Member of the Child Parliament, an initiative of HBC.

“Today we are celebrating self-reliance but there was a time when I was depressed knowing my HIV status. The staff from the HBC program convinced me to attend the support group sessions and training programs. Gradually they helped built my understanding of how to live positively with HIV, and how to face the challenges associated with being HIV positive.” – A community volunteer recollected.

“When we shifted to Mumbai, the ART center referred my mother who then got registered with CCDT’s HBC program. She was unaware about any of the services an HIV individual can avail. The staff started visiting our house on a monthly basis and gave information on HIV. The staff realised I was not aware about my mother’s positive status, the staff emphasised to my mother to disclose her status to me. Finally she did. When I got to know about my mother’s status I started spending more time with my mother than my friends. I became more responsible about her health and well being. I thank CCDT for coming in our life and being with us always” – 21 year old youth from a self reliant family.