Living with HIV, I am not even sure if I am eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination

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My name is Rani (name changed) and I am 32 years of age. I live in Nehru Camp of New Delhi with my mother and my two children. I came to Delhi several years back with my husband. Shortly after coming here, I started working as a domestic worker.

I used to work in four households as a domestic worker. But my employers have not called me to work since April. I am the only earning member in my family. With no source of income, it has been difficult for us to make ends meet.

Since the time I got married my life has been full of challenges. I was married at a very young age and had my first child at 13. Now I am a single mother of two children. My husband passed away 8 years ago due to HIV. At the time of my marriage, he did not disclose his condition to my family. He had a difficult life, and it has been very challenging for me as well.

Last year I managed to arrange for my daughter’s wedding with the help of some relatives and neighbors. Now she is expecting her first child. The doctor has asked us to get an ultrasound but with the labs shut down in government hospitals we are unable to get it done. We cannot afford to visit a private laboratory.

I am also HIV positive. Nobody in my family, except for my mother, knows about my condition. I have never met anyone else with HIV, so I am very hesitant about talking about my condition. I don’t know much about the disease; all I know is that I got it from my husband. Now I am also unsure about getting the COVID-19 vaccination. “Tika toh hum lagva lenge lekin mere jaisoun ko tika lagega bhi ki nahi mujhe nahi pata!” 

My medicines cost 6000 rupees per month but I get those from a government hospital so I don’t have to pay. I could never afford the treatment from a private facility.

Things are tough for us here but it is much worse in our hometown. So going back is not an option for us. My neighbors have warned me against going outside, they say policemen beat up people with lathis who step outside in curfews. Now, I feel scared to even step outside my house.

Note: While speaking with Rani, the MFF COVID Relief Team gave her the relevant information about COVID-19 vaccines being safe for people living with HIV. She and her family will also receive rations through donations made to MFF’s COVID-19 Relief Kit drive for domestic workers.

This story is a part of MFF’s Lockdown Stories series, which consist of everyday lived experiences of domestic workers in the COVID-19 Second Wave. There’s no data around the needs and experiences of domestic workers in this fight against the coronavirus. MFF along with its partner networks is attempting to bridge this gap. Join us in advocating for change and ensuring protection for domestic workers through prioritised vaccinations, relief package distribution and all other benefits being extended to frontline workers.

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