Doctor-filmmaker Jorge Guillermo Caravotta, whose AIDS documentary "Second Life" was released recently, says people are dying more from the stigma attached to the disease than the disease itself.
India has 5.1 million HIV positive people, second only to South Africa. However, the stigma and discrimination associated with this disease are the real enemies, said Mumbai-based Caravotta, an Italian doctor of Argentine origin.
"My source of inspiration was Kamal, the first PLHA (person living with HIV/AIDS) to be my colleague," he said.
Kamal discovered her HIV/AIDS status six months into marriage. After her husband's death and daughter's birth, she completed her medical studies to "live for positive people like her", says Caravotta's film.
"I never thought of making a documentary film about HIV/AIDS before. But after listening to her during a trip to Delhi, I found in her story a lot of courage to empower PLHAs," Caravotta told IANS.
"India acted as an alarm clock for my film-making creativity, boosting my potential," he added. "I would like the message of the documentary film spread all over this country with the same velocity as the virus."
The National Family Health Survey, the most extensive study on health and nutrition in India, reported that 57 percent of women are unaware of HIV/AIDS. Health officials and doctors still reject patients suffering from this fatal illness, the doctor said.
Big companies are unclear about the disease, said Caravotta. Families eject children from their homes if they contract HIV/AIDS. Some institutions refuse to take care of HIV positive children, he added.
"Can we stop this epidemic with condoms? Can we stop it with antiretrovirals? Can we stop this epidemic with pamphlets only?" he asked.
"My main objective in 2004 was not to make a documentary, but to record some incidents about PLHAs. Then, in 2006, I was touched by the transformation of the people and this was the beginning of my film," he added.
The Humanity Films Year produced the Hindi-Marathi "Second Life" with English subtitles. The documentary was first shown in December.