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Matchmaker for HIV-infected

Kozhikode, Dec. 14: Kerala’s impressive record in the hea- lth sector is set to get better with the addition of a unique service — matchmaking for the HIV positive.

The initiative has been launched by the Kottaram Charitable Trust, an NGO based in this north Kerala town, that has been working among various sections of society, including AIDS patients and HIV positive persons, for one-and-a-half years.

According to trust chairman Kottaram George, the endeavour is to promote marriages between HIV positive people. By all indications, this is the first such initiative in India.

George explained that the motivation was two problems that exist among the HIV positive. One, the increasing alienation of those who have been diagnosed with the virus from the society, almost forcing them to give up all hopes of leading a family life.

Two, the tendency among the HIV positive to enter into matrimony by camouflaging their ailment and then spre- ad the human immuno deficiency virus to unsuspecting partners.

George pointed out that people who are HIV positive but have not contracted full-blown AIDS lead near-normal lives for 8-10 years.

“But the stigma attached by society to those suffering from this condition is increasingly compelling them to hide their status. Such people get into marriages hiding their condition and the result is rampant proliferation of the dreaded virus.”

The NGO has been inspired by the dating services for the HIV positive in western countries.

“Given our cultural traditions, we, in India, cannot think of such services and hence the concept of a matrimonial agency dedicated to this unfortunate section of the society,” George said.

The NGO has started building up a database of HIV positive people from across India — only those who want to voluntarily participate — to facilitate matchmaking. The names of those who want to protect their identity are not included.

The NGO uses the serv- ices of specialist medical doctors, who are also voluntarily associated with the NGO, to make an independent assessment of the seriousness of the condition of those who want to enroll.

Though no marriage has been solemnised so far, Geo- rge said as many as 300 peo- ple have registered with the organisation.

Those who want to register can contact George on email at [email protected]

“We are getting many inquiries from different parts of south India,” he said.

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