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Five people die of AIDS every minute, and in India, like so many other countries, it has become one of the leading killers of women.  But physicians there are trying to stop the spread of the disease to this vulnerable population, and they are reaching into their own pockets to do it.  Reed Galin has more.

 
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SCRIPT:

(Locator: Vellore, India)

24-year-old Rama is 34-weeks pregnant and HIV positive. Medications may help stop the spread of the disease to her baby, but Rama is not likely to live past the child’s 7th birthday.

She is among a growing number of HIV positive mothers under the care of the United Methodist-supported Christian Medical Center in Vellore, India. Here, a diagnosis is often a death sentence for the entire family. When husbands die first, there is no one left to provide for young mothers or their children. And medical care is only for those who can afford to pay.

Dr. Jessie Lionel / Physician, Christian Medical Center: “They’re afraid, when will I die? Will I die like my husband? Will I suffer? What will happen to my children?”

With no government aid, the staff members tithe their own money. And have created programs like this snack vending operation to provide HIV mothers with jobs and a small income.

Dr. Jessie Lionel / Physician: “We have been giving them very minimal subsidy for herself to eat and for the baby to have milk.”

Many of these doctors are mothers themselves. They can provide for patients’ most basic needs, but feel these mothers and sick children deserve more.

Dr. Jessie Lionel / Physician: “To be able to have a hospice where these women and their positive children when they are sick to be able to come and die with dignity and peace.”

Second only to Africa, the AIDS problem in India is growing and staff members can’t possibly support every young mother. But they are doing what they can to give comfort, if nothing else.

Dr. Jessie Lionel /Physician: “I think we need to give hope, we need to care, and we have to say that we do have concern and sympathy and compassion for them.”

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For more information, go to: http://cmch-vellore.edu/main.asp.

Or you can contact the United Methodist Committee On Relief by logging onto: www.gbgm-umc.org or calling toll free: 1-800-554-8583.