In India, where sex is taboo and AIDS/HIV carries a heavy stigma, infection rates have grown to epidemic proportions. Major forms of transmission include blood transfusions, men who have sex with men, and intravenous drug users. However, by far, the highest infection rates are due to heterosexual sex.
Second only to Africa, the numbers were predicted to reach 10 million by 2010. Yet, it is still an issue that most of India is not talking about and that most of the world does not know.—Leah Nash
AIDS in India is Portland-based photographer Leah Nash‘s powerful documentation of a country coping with its current AIDS crisis. Nash leads us on an arresting journey that reveals the myriad facets of India’s epidemic—we see the heartbreak of HIV-positive children in an orphanage, the lack of knowledge and treatment due to the still-present stigma, the sobering realities of the disease, and also education efforts moving forward.
At Gilead’s Balm, a Christian based heroin detox center in Manipur, India new patients are chained to prevent escape. The longer their stay, the more links are added to the chain. The program, which lasts two years, is immensely popular with the community and is entirely locally funded. Their motto is “Chaining is changing.”
Raju contracted HIV through needle-sharing and for the last four months has been unable to speak or move. His wife, Assalata, does all his care-giving and says she is, “Not brave enough to test herself.” They have been married for two years.
A strip of “rubber goods” stores in Calcutta. Most people in India are embarrassed to buy condoms and have no knowledge of how to use them.