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"We Feel So Attached to Them": Med Student Overcomes Fear of HIV to Cuddle Children and Touch the Dying in the Slums of India

July 27, 2006

Prior to starting her second year of medical studies at University of Alberta (UA) this fall, Aisha Khatib is spending this summer working as an HIV/AIDS educator in Pune, India. Khatib is working for the Deep Griha Society in Pune, which is south of Mumbai on India's west coast. In addition to educating people about HIV/AIDS, she helps run a hospice.

Khatib left Edmonton on her journey with a full supply of breathing masks and plastic gloves, nervous about interacting with people infected with HIV or tuberculosis. However, at some point in her stay, Khatib stopped donning her gloves and mask.

"At first, I was very hesitant," said Khatib, 22. "The more I got to know the people, the less afraid I got and the more comfortable I got." "Even just a tight squeeze makes a big difference for them because many people won't touch them," she said, due to the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in India, where an estimated 5.6 million adults are infected.

In their education efforts, Khatib and fellow UA student Kim Dary have handed out more than 1,000 condoms and discussed common ways in which HIV is transmitted. They have held talks with groups of young girls and women, correcting myths and urging those infected to seek treatment.

Back to other news for July 27, 2006

Excerpted from:
Edmonton Journal
07.26.2006; Jodie Sinnema




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