My name is Jyoti Dhawale. In Hindi, the national language of India, "Jyoti" means "Light". As in "The Ray of Light". I was diagnosed with HIV in 2005 due to medical negligence and into HIV Activism since 2011. 1976 born, Indian, residing in Mumbai. Teetotaller. Independent working woman. Love life, friendly, free-spirited. Proactive in adventure outings and cycling to keep body endurance level and stamina toned. Dancing/Music: my passion, Travelling: A great stress-buster, Reading: An indulgence, Movies: A fascination. ISKCON devotee. Strongly believes in Karma. Very spiritual. Meditates 2 hours a day. Purely vegetarian. A complete foodie. Role model: Mother Teresa (who taught how to love unconditionally) and Princess Diana (who taught how to give selflessly). 

I was married in 2004, got pregnant in 2006 where I learnt I had contracted the virus, carried baby to full terms and gave birth to hale, hearty healthy son (negative) thru C-Section. In 2007, my marriage started crumbling and a divorce happened in 2008. I don't know if the failure of my marriage is due to my being HIV-positive or due to fear (my ex-husband is negative), or maybe because I was not fit enough in either of my responsibilities as a mother and a wife. But that was my Past. Now my present lies in helping eradicating the ignorance, educating the masses, showing myself as an example which is the biggest challenge I face, especially in a country which is conservative and orthodox…But then CHANGES begin in you and it starts with YOU. Upon my death, my epitaph should read "Here lie a woman who lived life in such a way that she didn't die in vain"!

I love life and even if the toughest of situations breask me down, it won't DEFEAT me and my will to live. I was born a rebellious fighter and love being in company of people, be it online or in person. 

Why Mumbaiyya Gal (Jo) wants to be a part of A Girl Like Me: Here, in India, HIV/AIDS is a curse and those who are living with it are treated as “untouchables”. I want to reach out, through the powers of media, to even the remotest place, and extend my hands to those crying for love, care and acceptance. In a conservative country like ours, I want to expose myself to show that HIV is not related only to the poor, the downtrodden, prostitute or drug/sex addicts. Even your well-do-to neighbour could be one! We need to reach out, speak up and be heard! 

Check out The Well Project's Spotlight on Jyoti.

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