The caretakers

I hate to admit this, but here goes: at the end of each interview session, I would surreptitiously pull out my hand sanitizer and slather on more than the recommended “thumbnail” size amount.

I also struggled to control my career-long habit of chewing on my cuticles when on deadline or under stress to avoid having any cuts on my fingers. And I consider myself educated about how the HIV virus is transmitted but I still was paranoid.

The health workers and people who take care of family members who are positive are under constant scrutiny by those around them.

One doctor said that his parents wondered why he would treat these kinds of patients when he could easily be minting rupees in a private practice. And of course, they feared for his health. When we interviewed people in their one-room homes in the slums, they kept peeking out their door to make sure their neighbors weren’t eavesdropping. Mothers and fathers traveled vast distances with a sick son or daughter to be as far from their home towns where they might be recognized.

This series of photographs is about the caretakers, who must ignore the hostility and suspicions of these neighbors, friends and other family members fearful because they provide medical services, food, shelter or emotion support to those with AIDS or those who have tested positive for the HIV virus.

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