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Chicago Tribune Profiles Indian State's New Marriage Bureau for HIV-Positive People

February 14, 2005

The Chicago Tribune on Sunday profiled a new marriage bureau in the Indian state of Gujarat that has been set up especially to arrange marriages between HIV-positive people. The bureau, which is privately funded and run by volunteers, was started by a couple who discovered they were HIV-positive six months into their marriage. After initially serving as HIV counselors and helping to set up the state network for HIV-positive people, the couple decided to form the marriage bureau with the idea that HIV-positive people likely would be happier in partnerships than alone. "We realized, we're positive people, and we're living such happy and beautiful lives. Why can't we give that to others?" Vithal Patel said. Although Gujarat is the only state with a formal marriage bureau for HIV-positive people, several other states run informal matchmaking programs for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Tribune. India has an estimated 5.1 million HIV-positive people, the second-largest number in any country worldwide (Barker, Chicago Tribune, 2/13).

Indian AIDS Patients Sent to Underfunded Hospices
Many people living with HIV/AIDS in India can find treatment for the disease only at underfunded AIDS hospices that are part of the country's "patchwork system of dealing with the epidemic," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. The Indian government spends only about 1% of gross domestic product on health programs and only about 29 cents per person on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, so the government has "little room" for specialized care, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. The Indian government's National AIDS Control Organization in 1999 set up 25 HIV/AIDS care centers, but patients at the centers only receive drugs to treat opportunistic infections. Although the cost of antiretroviral drugs is relatively low in India, those drugs are "out of the reach of most people" in the country, AFP/Yahoo News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 2/12).

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