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There's nothing like hearing the results of studies directly from those who actually conducted the research. In this interview, you'll meet one of these impressive HIV researchers and read her explanation of the study she presented at AIDS My name is Caitlin Kennedy. I'm a Ph. My poster is about the Y. In , one of the clients at Y. His parents were putting pressure on him to marry, but they didn't know that he was HIV infected, and he didn't want to pass on his infection to someone who was uninfected.
So he asked the director of Y. She put out some feelers, she talked to some people, and she found a young woman who was also interested in being arranged in a marriage. So they made a match, and that's how they started the matrimonial service. Matrimonial services are actually quite common throughout India. It's part of the arranged marriage tradition there, where people are matched. They have taken on some characteristics of online dating services.
They have online profiles, etc. The Y. This was a fairly new idea. Now that people living with HIV have access to HIV testing and treatment and know their status and are living longer lives -- including in places like India -- these issues are coming to the forefront more and more. We interviewed people who were affiliated with the matrimonial service, including matrimonial service clients, staff members, family members -- because in India family is so involved in dating and in marriage.
People in South India don't really date that much; they mostly get married. We also interviewed people living with HIV who were not affiliated with the matrimonial service, to get the perspective of people who might not want a service like this. We found that most people said marriages are really a part of normal life in Indian society. Most Indians are expected to get married at a certain age, and it's part of fulfilling your role in society.
The people with HIV who joined the service, even though they were initially devastated by their diagnosis, over time and with the availability of treatment, they found themselves feeling healthy and looking toward the future, and they wanted to live a normal life in the context of Indian society, which included being married. But again, they didn't want to pass their infection on to someone who was uninfected. And for many of them, this matrimonial service filled that niche.
They talked about the benefits to marriage. Men especially reported taking better care of their health after marriage. They said they had someone to answer to, in a sense, and someone to live for. Both men and women said that there was a lot of social support from marriage. Many said that the spouses who also had HIV could understand the unique challenges that they faced as people living with HIV.
Given the epidemiology of HIV in India, there aren't that many never-married women who are HIV infected, because most women marry at a very young age, and then many actually acquire HIV infection in their marriage. So the matrimonial service actually has five times as many men as women who have put their profiles in, partly because there are many never-married men who are HIV infected in South India. Most of the women who have put their profiles in are widows.
In traditional Indian society, widows are not supposed to remarry. But we have seen some changes in the matrimonial service, that men are actually willing to marry a widow because it's more important to them that they have a spouse who is HIV infected. Similarly, we have found that issues of caste and sub-caste that are traditionally important in arranged marriages have become somewhat less important in this service, because people are saying, "It's more important to me that I have someone who is healthy and who is taking care of themselves, and who has disclosed to their family, as opposed to someone who fits my exact characteristics that I might otherwise normally be looking for in this society.
As Indian society is changing, this is one reflection of it. In conclusion, matrimonial service, or dating services for people living with HIV, may be a creative and culturally appropriate way to achieve HIV prevention goals, as well as improve quality of life for people living with HIV. There may be some risks to people with HIV partnering together, such as, there's a possibility of passing on superinfection or drug-resistant virus, if one partner has drug-resistant virus and the other doesn't.
We had some concerns that maybe this would stigmatize people further, that people would feel they are being segregated, and that we were saying that people with HIV should only partner with other people with HIV. But actually, we didn't find that at all in our interviews. All the people who had used the service, and even the people who hadn't used the service, said that this was actually a really good thing in the Indian context because it showed other people in India that HIV-positive people could get married and live a normal life.
There have been about 20 marriages that have come out through the service, and there are about profiles of people who have submitted their information to the service. Tell me about these marriages. Where do they happen? Does the agency help find the place that they get married? What happens next? Indian marriages are unique and quite interesting. The family is usually quite involved. In the cases where the people living with HIV have disclosed to their family members, the family members usually get involved and sometimes come to the matrimonial service to meet the potential partner.
Usually, once that happens, the families take it from there. So the matrimonial service doesn't actually arrange the marriages. The families, then, will go and follow the traditional Indian arranged marriage pattern, where the families get to know each other. They go and they visit each other's households. They see what types of situations they are signing their child up for, essentially, and they go from there.
They get married usually within a short period of time. Once people agree to get married in India, they usually have a relatively short engagement, typically a few months. That's a good question. I can tell you for sure, it's older than the typical age of marriage in India. I think the average age of a first marriage in India is around 18 for women and 21 for men, something like that.
I'm not sure of the exact statistics. But these marriages tend to be older. There are very few teenagers, for example. In fact, I don't think there are any, if I remember correctly. It's almost exclusively people in their late 20s and 30s, even some people in their 40s -- I don't know if there's anyone older than that -- who have profiles in, especially people who were married previously -- again, widows or people who were divorced or separated from their first spouse.
Several of the couples have had children. Care provides a full range of services for people through pregnancy, to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and they are very open about giving people with HIV all of their options for pregnancies. So several of the couples have decided to have children. The two families that I interviewed as part of this project both had HIV-negative children.
I don't know of any cases of HIV-positive children, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Do you have any plans to follow up -- to do a longitudinal study to see what happens after couples have been together for five years, 10 years, etc.? We would love to do that, yes. I would like to stay in academia and continue to help doing the research and actually evaluate services like this to see what the impact is, to see what's happening with people who have used this service. So I certainly hope that's the next step.
Download the audio file. Terri L. Wilder, M. HIV Clinical Care. Icon - Search. Terri Wilder, M. About Contact Write For Us. Sign Up.
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Finding the right footing in the dating scene can be difficult for anyone, but especially so for those with a positive HIV diagnosis.
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With more and more people from all over the world being diagnosed with some type of STD at some point of their life, being tested positive is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. We are glad to see that you have decided to look at life in a better light by finding other singles like you to share your life and happiness. HIVPeopleMeet is a dating site specifically meant for you and others like you, helping you in your fears and loneliness, and enabling you to find friendship, companionship, and love from a host of other member living with similar problems. When you are tested for AIDS, you can feel rather lonely. We exist to help people like you with a choice of an online community that can support and help you lead a healthy love life. Our HIV dating site has been designed for people with STDs, so that they can connect with others going through the same ordeal. You can freely share your thoughts or your experiences with others, without any embarrassment. Allow others to change your perceptions for the better and lead a more fruitful life filled with love and compassion for others like you. Bring back the smile to your face and start your life afresh. Just start by creating your profile on our dating site and uploading your picture.
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Somesh name changed on request is a regular at spas in Delhi-NCR. Sometimes he is shut down as soon as he does. Of the 90 people he has befriended and counselled at three spas over eight months, though, seven tested positive for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Anti-HIV activists are penetrating dating sites and open-for-all-parties too, as part of a government-run community-led effort to think out of the box when it comes to the disease. These high-risk groups include men who have sex with men MSM , female sex workers FSW , transgenders TGs and members of the open-door dating and party circuits. In such cases, there is a consent form to be filled for testing, and total confidentiality, of course, regarding the results and future conversations they might want to have. But the number of people living with HIV in India has dropped by more than half, from 5.
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