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Jyoti Dhawale-Surve and her husband Vivek Surve

Jyoti Dhawale-Surve and her husband Vivek Surve

What do you do when you are told, out of the blue, that you are HIV positive? In science, there is a famous theory called ‘Fight or Flight response’ which says that under unwanted circumstances, we have two choices –one is to run away from that situation… but how do you run away from your HIV status? So, Jyoti Dhawale-Surve had no option but to take the second choice- to fight…and what a fighter she is!.

Jyoti had to undergo 2forced abortions, under pressure from her then-husband who was not ready for children. In 2005, when she went to get her 3rd pregnancy terminated, she did the regular HIV screening…and was told she was HIV positive.

She knew she and her husband were in a monogamous relationship with each other and he did not have the virus. Her condition was a result of medical negligence during one of her previous abortions. With all her former abortion records destroyed, there was nothing and no one to seek answers from.

Jyoti reveals, “I was numb with disbelief. Then ‘fear’ overtook me. As my then-husband had promised to be there with me, I ‘accepted’ my status and took it in my stride. But then, I never knew that it wasn’t so easy and I would be divorced later on.”

At the time of her finding out about her virus status, Jyoti had to take a very important decision-to have a 3rdabortion or have a full-term baby. She was told that she might not have a baby after this due to her health issues. Heeding the mother’s voice in her, she chose to have the baby…and in March, 2006, she became the mother to a hale and hearty baby boy. Breaking a strong myth, her HIV negative baby proved that people with HIV can go on to become parents of perfectly healthy babies. The clinic Jyoti had been consulting had given her Zidovudine, an Anti Retroviral drug. This helped in preventing the transmission of the virus from her to her baby.

By 2007, Jyoti was a HIV positive divorcee with a baby. Life was different, to say the least. “After divorce, I took it up as my ‘responsibility’ to know and learn about my body, about HIV and about the medicines, so as to enable myself to live a better healthier life without depending on anyone. I had changed inside-out. I turned vegetarian and teetotaler. Also, it shaped and molded my character/personality/thinking. I became spiritual. All this helped me overcome life’s hardships and struggles with a strong mind.”

Jyoti is grateful to her doctors, Dr George Oomen, Dr Sanjay Poojari and DrJehangirSorabjee for encouraging her to lead a life with proper exercise and a healthy diet. Many of the medicines she needs have side-effects but her discipline has kept these in control. “My mantra has always been that ‘the virus doesn’t control me, I control the virus!’”.

Her biggest support system is her husband, VivekSurve, who she married in 2013. He is HIV negative and Jyoti considers him a great role-model for the society. This much-in-love couple has a great married life. Jyoti emphasizes on the need of awareness and education, “People in India are quite afraid of the virus. They think (even if they know that it is not) that kissing is the source of transmission, what then to speak of sharing food in one plate or drinking water from the same glass! Also, a high percentage of people believe that an HIV positive person can only marry a person of the same status.Eradication of these misconceptions comes from KNOWLEDGE. Ignorance leads to fear, which in turn leads to stigma and discrimination.”

Jyoti is also a fearless blogger and HIV activist. With her own experiences and examples, she has been an inspiration to so many HIV positive people. “I show them there is life after HIV and how, through my struggles and pains, I have emerged a better, stronger and happier person. I always make them feel that they are not ‘victims’ but ‘survivors’.”

For all such people, Jyoti strongly advises adherence and to take medicines strictly on time. She asks them not to believe in so-called miracle cures for HIV and although they can go for alternate treatment if they wish to, “never ever stop taking your Anti Retroviral Therapy and drugs (ART/ARV’s). The medicine is the lifeline and this is what helps keep one alive despite the side effects.”

So, what other interests keep Jyoti happily busy? “Reading strengthens my brain-power. Listening to the music is my great stress-buster. Travelling help me rejuvenate. Last but not least, bringing smilesand happiness in the lives of PLWHA (People Living With HIV/AIDS) makes me feel as my living in this world has been worthwhile!”.

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3 Responses so far.

  1. DRCSBUCH says:

    It is indeed very good and succesfull rehabilitation both personally and socially for Jyoti and it is a matter of pride NOT only for Patient or Doctor or Medical Science ONLY but Society as a whole in that the HIV could be controlled and LIFE could GO ON. Lion the KING of Jungle has no such facilities for Cataract in Lioness or Elep-hant has no such facilities for curing any ailment but HUMANS are THE ONLY species who NOT only can look after themselves,medically surgically and so many other things and keep the life ongoing inspite of so many obstacles!This is not only for our friends and relatives but our Veterinary friends do carry out Caesarian section infrequently for Crocodile also so I would like to reaffirm my faith in Medicine as an Extraordinary GIFT to mankind by mankind.There is NO DOUBT that everyone with Patients and Healthcare in MIND …(Medicos,Interns,Nurses and Doctors) need to be very vigilant and take Healthcare to minimal mistakes using Six Sigma practices in Healthcare. Best Wishes

  2. DRCSBUCH says:

    One of my patients had so low virus count that he could be labelled HIV Negative but it was like Normal Sugar in a controlled Diabetes and NOT that he had no Diabetes.Similarly when this patient went for Bypass the team felt it was HIV Negative but we had informed and got it done with all precautions and he is doing very well.In this case Mr Vivek also deserves same or more compliments for the courage and concerns he has shown

  3. abhishek says:

    Mam, you are too stong! i have seen people destroying their lives when they got to know there status. truely said, either fight or flight, and its better to fight!!
    i guess this virus along with testing the strength of immune system also tests the internal strength!! just be internally strong, and most important , be happie…
    Mr vivek, salutes you mayn!! you have done what most of the people cant!! i have faced the consequences !!
    good luck and remain happy always.

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