Daisy David is one of 34 million people around the world living with the HIV/AIDS virus. In India, where an estimated 2.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, Daisy has dedicated her life to raising awareness and fighting for the rights of those affected.
"After I was diagnosed, I faced extreme discrimination from relatives, family, church, neighbors and friends," Daisy said. "It was shocking for me to accept it."
Daisy's world completely changed after she was diagnosed with HIV in 1998. It was her initial diagnosis, Daisy says, that brought her from being a namesake Christian to a devoted Christ follower. Following her diagnosis, she fully surrendered her life to the Lord, and even got baptized at her local church.
"One of my friends told me, 'Daisy, having HIV is not a sin,'" Daisy says. "It sounds simple, but those words are imprinted on my heart forever. It helped me come out of my fear."
Aside from life at church, living with HIV at work proved impossible. She had to quit her job as a lab technician because of the discrimination she faced and as a result, began working for an organization called INP+ (India Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS). She started working there as an outreach worker, and eventually went on to receive a master's degree in psychology in order to better serve the men and women she was counseling in the field.
"I had to get a list of people from the blood bank that tested positive for HIV, and I would visit their homes and provide counseling to the families," Daisy says. "Sometimes it would take me weeks to locate the families in the slums or villages, and I would arrive only to find out that the person had died, leaving behind a widow or orphan. Looking at the conditions of those widows and children pained and burdened my heart very much."
INP's mission is to improve the quality of life and provide a sense of belonging for people living with HIV in India. The organization also seeks to reduce further HIV transmission.
"After seeing the HIV widows and listening to the problems they faced, I would always ask God why I got infected with HIV," Daisy says. "But many times I have thought that maybe I got infected with HIV only to help these women and widows."
Throughout Daisy's journey as an advocate and counselor with INP, and now World Vision, she has been a catalyst for change. She was the first woman in India to raise her voice for free distribution of ART, Anti-Retroviral Therapy (a term used for a combination of drugs that attempts to control the burden of HIV on the body), and has successfully gained rights for free distribution for hundreds of people in India. The ART drugs are used in different stages of the HIV life-cycle, and are crucial for the survival of people living with HIV. Daisy understands the importance of fighting for this treatment because for patients in need, receiving it or not could mean life or death.