In Surat, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) held a marriage consultation fair for HIV-positive people on Sunday.
Gujarat State Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GSNP+), one of the few NGO's offering consultation services for HIV-positive brides and grooms, has been reportedly organising the fair for the past nine years in Surat. Hundreds of people, who are otherwise socially ostracized, attended the programme in search of a suitable life partner.
"Like every year, we organised the 'Jeevansathi Pasandgi Mela' or marriage consultation fair for HIV-positive youths and more than 300 persons have registered for it. HIV-positive people across Gujarat, who are looking for a marriage partner, are present here," said Project Director of GSNP+, Daxa Patel. Owing to the higher proportion of infected men, prospective brides usually get a greater freedom in choosing their partners.
I have also come here for my marriage so that I can get a good life partner and lead my life well," said a female participant. India has the third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world, with 2.1 million. Indians accounting for four of every 10 people infected in Asia, according to a 2014 report by the United Nations.
The country's AIDS programme has been largely successful -- estimates showed HIV prevalence during 2007-15 declining to 0.26 percent from 0.34 percent among adults, while annual HIV-related deaths declined by more than half to 67,000.