“He hadn’t ever told anyone else about his sexuality, let alone about his HIV status. We talked, and when the test came out positive, he called me crying. He was feeling guilty and trapped. He felt like he was being punished by God because he is a sinner, for having gay sex. He didn’t know how he was going to inform his family.”
Vishwa Srivastava is a charismatic young counsellor and gay man who is living with HIV in Delhi. He manages the website Safe Masti, which includes India’s first anonymous online chat service for men who have sex with men (MSM) seeking more information about safe sex.
MSM are one of most vulnerable groups in India. HIV prevalence rates are around 16 times higher in this group compared to the general public. And in order for the country to meet the “90-90-90” goals by 2020, services like Safe Masti are of the utmost necessity.
These high HIV rates and lack of access to care among MSM are partly due to the old stigma and prejudice against the members of the LGBT+ community. This stigma is stubbornly refusing to go away. Although attitudes towards gay relationships have softened, more than 60 per cent of respondents in a 2016 survey among young people believed homosexuality was wrong.
Mr Srivastava described one case of a 21-year-old student from a poor family who was awaiting his initial HIV test results when he first reached out to the Safe Masti chatline. “I helped him, I even sent him a little money to pay for travel to an NGO where he could start treatment. More than that, I could offer hope, and give him guidance for how he could go forward with his life.”
Join the fight by donating and help us keep supporting initiatives like Safe Masti, which are a necessity in the path towards an #AIDSfree future.
£5 provides vital HIV testing information to those at risk
£20 will pay for a self-testing kit so those stigmatised can receive the help they need
£100 will ensure someone with a positive diagnosis is given the right treatment
Every donation will be doubled by the UK government, up to £2m #UKAidMatch @DFID_UK.