30-year-old HIV+ auto-rickshaw driver wonders about his future

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Narasimha, a 30-year-old rickshaw driver in Hyderabad, found out he was HIV+ five years ago when he contracted TB.

He admits that he visited commercial sex workers a number of times. His wife, who he says he did not infect, left him shortly after finding out what exactly he had contracted.

After starting anti-retroviral treatment two years ago, he has slowly regained his strength and is back at work.

In a haunting twist, his male passengers often ask to be driven to prostitutes around Hyderabad’s parks and main train stations.

I asked him if he warns them about the possible consequences. He shook his head, explaining that upon returning to work after his recovery from TB, one of his first passengers asked to be taken to a commercial sex worker.

When Narasimha tried to warn the passenger of the risks he was taking, the man yelled at him: “What do you know? You have it?”

Alarmed by the prospect of his HIV+ status being exposed, and his livelihood threatened, Narasimha backed off. Since that experience, he quietly fulfills his passengers’ requests.

In this video clip, Narasimha explains how he copes, knowing his body will build up resistance to the ARV treatment and that the next level of treatment will remain out of his grasp.

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