Mizoram grapples with a significant HIV/AIDS epidemic, with over 25,000 registered individuals living with HIV. Among them, 33.86% are women, and one of these courageous women is Vanlalruati Colney. Her journey from despair to hope has transformed her into a symbol of resilience and determination.
Positive Women’s Network of Mizoram (PWNM)
In 2007, Colney established the Positive Women’s Network of Mizoram (PWNM) to empower women living with HIV in the state. PWNM has been a driving force, conducting advocacy and awareness programs and offering vital services such as medical support, rehabilitation, nutrition, legal guidance, counselling, and employment opportunities.
A Troubled Past: Addiction and Isolation
Colney’s battle with HIV began amidst challenging circumstances. After her father’s untimely demise, her family faced financial hardship. Loneliness and vulnerability led her into a relationship with a drug user at the age of 18. She soon became addicted to drugs and experienced a tumultuous relationship.
The Isolation and Discrimination
Colney’s hospitalization due to her condition became a harrowing experience. Isolated in a room meant for convicts, she endured a lack of counselling and medical care. The hospital’s refusal to change her sheets underscored the discrimination she faced.
Rising from Adversity
Determined to overcome her addiction, Colney joined a camp for drug addicts at her church. Despite facing intense withdrawal symptoms, she persisted with the camp’s support. Notably, her family and friends did not stigmatize her for her condition.
A Network of Support
PWNM’s impactful work caught the attention of the Mizoram State AIDS Control Society, leading to their partnership in running a drop-in centre offering counselling, psycho-social support, and legal advice to PLHIV.
Spreading Hope and Empowerment
Over the years, PWNM has collaborated with numerous organizations, providing training and support for women living with HIV. The team played a crucial role in aiding drug users during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, working closely with medical professionals to ensure the delivery of essential medication.
A Remarkable Journey
Vanlalruati Colney’s extraordinary journey from adversity to empowerment serves as an inspiration, reducing the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in Mizoram and encouraging support and empathy for those affected.
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