Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Kripa Foundation Posters released by Fr. Joe

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NEED A POSTER TO REACH OUT IN YOUR AREA CONTACT krishna.iyer@ymail.com or kripadarc@yahoo.co.in


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Sunday, December 13, 2009


91st Birthday of Guruji B.k.S.IYENGAR
Guruji with Mother Teresa has been my inspiration and so on Guruji's 91st birthday,my deepest gratitude to God for these two wonderful persons.My greatest joy more than all the awards is to be known as the Priest Mother loved and Guruji's loved one. What they want from us, the Kripa family is that we be faithful to ourselves and God - Fr. Joe.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

“The stigma must go away. Interview by kripa Family Member on WORLDS AIDS DAY 2009

“The stigma must go away…”
says an HIV-positive person on World AIDS Day

As told to Elton Pinto
Posted On Monday, November 30, 2009
It was back in the year 1995. I was high on brown sugar. My family had thrown me out years ago because of my addiction. I had my close group of ‘friends’ who shared drugs and needles. Most days were spent in drugged stupors and highs. That’s when news of this new disease started appearing all over the place. HIV and AIDS were the words, and the awareness programmes claimed that it could be spread through shared or contaminated needles. It was with this thought that I went to get myself tested.
The result of the test said I tested positive for HIV. The doctor proceeded to explain things, but in my head, I refused to accept it. “The test was wrong,” I told myself, so I left, tore up the reported and pushed the results of the test to the back on my mind.
Kripa Foundation
In 1997, I decide to clean up my act and visited Kripa Foundation for drug abuse rehabilitation. They required a blood test. I remembered the old test and spoke to the doctor. Two years later, the test turned out the same. I was HIV-positive.
After I saw that this test too said that I had an incurable disease, my only thoughts were to get back to drugs and spend the rest of my numbered days on a drugged high and then, even if I died on the drugs, it would be no problem at all. The people at Kripa thought differently.
The doctor took me to Fr Joe Pereira, Founder and Managing Trustee of Kripa Foundation, and explained my case to him. Fr Pereira then counselled me, on why I should keep living. He asked me if I really wanted to spend the rest of my days as a drug addict and die a drug induced death or… would I like to live a better life. After a two and a half hour long counselling session, I chose to live.
Getting back on the road to life
The first step of my rehabilitation involved me getting over my drug addiction and the people at Kripa got to it right away. The next step involved yoga and meditation. There was a two-fold benefit of yoga, firstly it helped physically to get my immunity up and secondly, it helped me mentally become stronger. I began practising yoga in the morning and evening for around half an hour.
In the year 2002, Kripa began a HIV centre at Vasai. Fr Pereira asked me to start living and working there. There began the awareness drives. We would walk down roads and I would use a megaphone to speak to people. Our efforts paid off and today, the centre has around 3000 patients.
I would counsel people who came to the centre. I would begin by telling them my story and that made them open up to me. They felt that if I could change so much for the better even though I was HIV-positive, they did not have to give up hope yet. Thus began the support group, which helped many people maintain a positive attitude towards life.
But I didn’t stop here. I visited the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) where Guruji BKS Iyengar taught a variety of yoga asanas to boost immunity and to treat other HIV-related complications, which I have shared with a lot of people from the centre to improve their lives. Till date, I practise yoga everyday.
Medications are life-long
About 3 years ago, I fell ill and I had a tough time recovering. My doctor then advised me to begin ART (Anti Retroviral Therapy) and I have been on that medication ever since. This involves taking a pill, which has 3 medications in it everyday, twice a day (morning and night). This medication does not destroy HIV, but prevents the multiplication of the virus. That’s why you cannot afford to miss a single pill, and once you have begun, it is a life-long medication.
Reconciling with family
12 years after I had left my family, I got back in touch with my older brother. After some persuasion, I convinced him to meet me. There, I told him about being HIV-positive and that I wanted to meet my family one last time to ask for their forgiveness. He told me he would call me back within three days.
Three days later, he called me and told me that I could come and meet mother. He hadn’t told anyone else in the family and wanted me to speak to them in person. So I went over and met them. I thought it would be for the last time, but fortunately it wasn’t. I now visit my family during the festivals.
Discrimination is the biggest hurdle
A few years ago, I went to the dentist to get a tooth extracted. I informed the dentist there that I was HIV positive. She asked me to wait and went to speak to the person-in-charge. They both then asked me to leave. When I asked them why I was being refused treatment, they proceeded to announce my ‘condition’ to all present there.
Discrimination is real. Young doctors in government hospitals refuse to even examine a HIV-positive person, whereas private hospitals refuse to admit an HIV-positive patient. People are still fearful of the disease and hence fear the people who test HIV-positive. Even when they come for counselling, they are afraid to open up and talk. It is only when I share my story with them that they feel comfortable and talk about themselves.
Most people think that those who are HIV-positive have done something bad in their lives and hence they have got this disease, but that is not always the case. Many people have contracted this disease for no fault of theirs. As awareness increases, people learn how to avoid infection, but until the day comes that people accept HIV-positive people without prejudice, all the awareness in the world will not help those afflicted with this disease. Awareness that people with HIV need love too; that they are not untouchables, needs to reach every person in society.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Times Wellness Chat line 1Dec09 2-3 pm. Extract. Kripa-AIDS. WAD 2009 Activity

Welcome to the TimesWellness.com chat with Dr Shashi Menon, Medical Director, Kripa Foundation,INDIA who will attempt to dispel myths, talk about how to take care of a patient with HIV and tell you why HIV positive patients should not lose hope
The expert will be online soon. The chat will begin shortly.
This is a moderated chat room. That means that your messages won't appear until a moderator approves it.
Dr Shashi Menon, Director, Kripa Foundation, is here. He will take your questions now. The chat is subject to moderation. In order to get quick responses kindly formulate your doubts into a single query and refrain from sending the same in bits and pieces
hi doctor, what's the news on the AIDS vaccine ? will we be seeing it soon or is it just false hope ?
Hi Friend, Please understand current AIDS Vaccine efforts are still on. There are a variety of vaccines being researched and tried. Some of them are directed at controlling virus multiplication, others at reducing the impact on immune cells number and function. No one vaccine to date had demonstrated ability to remove the virus from the host body. For more details, visit www.aidsinfo.nih.gov and see the section on vaccine trials.
abhinav to binu:
hi doctor,can oral sex cause aids??
Dear enquirer, Saliva by itself has antiviral properties. Quantity of virus detected in saliva from an otherwise healthy oral cavity is negligible. Hence oral transmission of HIV is a theoretical possibility based on the presence of any inflammation, wound or bleeding source in the mouth. In such a case, it may result in being a blood borne transmission and not a saliva based transmission. Even when indulging in oral sex (peno-oral or vagina-oral) prefer to use a barrier for safety.
I would like to know, once a person is diagnosed HIV +, what is the current survival rate, considering modern trends in prophylaxis?
Good question friend. While HIV infection is well recognised to be a progressively immuno depleting infection (65-85% over 6-8 years time), scrupulous health practices, medical and laboratory monitoring, timely diagnosis of minor illnesses and treatment and suitable prophylaxis for Opportunistic Infections help to preserve immunity well beyond 10 years before any significant decline. All this, without even having to start on AntiRetroviral Treatment (ART). In well managed patients who are immunodepleted and on good effective ART medicines, 5 year survival is well beyond 85%. Thats good hope!
In a HIV+ couple, is it a surety that the child born of them would be HIV+ too. Or is there a chance that the child will not carry the virus?
Regarding Mother to Child HIV transmissions, approximately 24% transmission potential exists from an infected mother to baby per pregnancy. The risk factor varies in different stages of pregnancy, but is maximal at time of delivery. A small percentage occurs during breast feeding. With proper prophylaxis during pregnancy / delivery and suitable modality post delivery, risk reduces to 8%. It is nearly 'nil' when the mother is on ART and her plasma viral load is below detectable levels. Please realise that NOT EVERY CHILD borne to an HIV infected mother is positive.
i've heard that private hospitals refuse to admit HIV positive people, is this true ?
Dear friend, Stigma, Discrimination based on a profound lack of Awareness are underlying reasons for many of our social ills. Inappropriate behaviour by the medical fraternity is no exception. However, not all private hospitals deny caring for HIV positive patients. I am happy to say care is available in the private sector. It should improve with more awareness. We all live in hope.
abhinav to binu:
sir, what are the exact symptoms of aids?
AIDS is a complex of symptoms desciptive of a variety of infections and cancers which are extremely unusual or not normally seen in non HIV infected individuals. The presence of HIV having resulted in severe immunodepletion, these infections by viruses, bacteria’s, protozoa and fungi as also unusual dermatologic diseases and tissue and blood cancers affect even very young persons. Most commonly they are Pneumonias, Tuberculosis, Fungal infections affecting lungs, Gastrointestinal passages, Liver and other body tissues, blood and intracranial tissue. There are many many more, unfortunately!
Is it true that (Anti-retroviral therapy) ART is completely subsidized by the Government?
ART is a 'generic' term applicable to the use of a suitable combination of Anti HIV medicines that are expected to cause a profound reduction of the virus numbers, maintain virus depletion and permit the recovery of immune capacity to the extent possible. The need for changes in ART depend on suitability and tolerance, efficacy, presence of viral resistance to the drugs and the financial equation. Government provides for free ART to the suitable candidates who are registered with the National programme (First line drugs) and a limited number of patients needing 'Second line Drugs'.
Hello Doctor. If a male is carrying the HIV+ virus, whereas female is negative, is there any procedure that they can give a birth to a child, where the child and the mother are safe. As i've heard about sperms washing procedure. Is there any chance of transmission of virus from father to mother or a child.
Dear friend, cant promise any fool proof methods. If the concerned partners are taking effective ART, their HIV viral load is below detectable levels, and rigorous sperm washing techniques are being used, then chances of a HIV free baby are good. Even if nothing is done, 1 in 5 such pregnancies only may carry the virus to the baby. Pregnancy related prophylaxis mecication is a must. This issue needs to be discussed in details in another circumstance with the consultant and I urge you to do so. Regards.
do you think mandatory hiv test are important ?
Friend, this is a vexing issue at many levels. Presently, mandatory testing is permitted only by judicial order, among specified incarcerated populations and under rules of the Defense Service Act in India. A Bill is pending in parliament that if passed, may provide much clarity on this issue. Granting Mandatory Testing in wide circumstances is foolhardy as it does not take into consideration individual autonomy, lack of appropriate support/guidance following the test and moreover, it is easy to fool the system on many ocassions. I feel current laws are appropriate, but there is a clear lack of 'Awareness' and 'Counselling'.
despite all the awareness campaigns going on around regularly and on world aids day, why is it that people still discriminate against aids patients ?
Thanks for raising this issue. People are under the impression that one person's awareness would solve the proble. This is not so. Our whole social approach needs reworking. As time goes by, Stigma concerning Tuberculosis and less so of Leprosy has significantly reduced. All this in about a centry! That of Cancer is still a major source of suffering. Is it any wonder that a new Disease based of Human biological demands and Risk Behaviour would be the subject of Stigma and the object of Discrimination? And this disease is well recognised only since 1986! So be patient and work harder.
Hi, That's all we have time for. Thanks for participating in the chat. Hope your doubts are clarified.