Anjali Gopalan has shifted the mindset around HIV and it’s most vulnerable populations. Her successful models for the care, support and prevention of HIV amongst children and sexual minorities is spurring the inclusion of HIV populations into the community, government and media.
Anjali pioneered a home-based care support programme that has reached out to about 1000 families across National Capital Region. Anjali’s organisation, Naz Foundation, supports families of HIV+ children initially for about 6-11 months, depending upon their needs. Families are educated about HIV+ child care. Anjali’s team of counsellors work closely with members of the family, doctors, nurses and caregivers who are involved with the well-being of the child, to remove stigma attached with HIV+ children. Following this, the Naz Foundation provides a manual on HIV care and connects families to resources they may need in the future. In addition, Naz Foundation shares its best practices manual to build capacities of other organisations and the government involved in the care and support of HIV+ children. In 2001, it founded a first-of-its-kind home care facility that houses about 30 HIV+ orphans. Naz Foundation’s GOAL program uses sports as a medium share HIV education to young adolescent girls.
Beyond HIV+ children, Anjali realized the LGBT community was equally vulnerable to HIV owing to the lack of awareness about safe sexual practices by the medical community. So, she began working with the Indian LGBT community in the early 1990’s to educate them about sexual health ensuring they would not contract HIV. Counselling services focus on building positive self-image of individuals so that the education has a lasting effect on them. From this community work, Anjali along with other activists spearheaded the eight year legal battle against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), an archaic law that discriminated against people based on their sexuality. In 2009 the Delhi High Court decided to repeal Section 377 of the IPC, a hefty feat considering the LGBT community existed in the shadows well into the 1990’s. Despite the Supreme Court of India’s decision to uphold Section 377 in 2013, Anjali along with other activists continue to fight for its repeal.
In order to further mainstream HIV+ people and LGBT community, Anjali has led the shift in media coverage of HIV in India and is pushing to remove the stigma around it through educational workshops in schools. She recently filed a PIL under Right to Education to ensure that no HIV+ children or children with HIV+ parents are denied education in schools. Through her compassionate care, advocacy, and work with the government, Anjali hopes to change the current systems of HIV intervention to a more holistic model Naz Foundation showcases.
Note: This was updated in March, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile