1st December, 2019: GB Meet at Versova – HIV Awareness

Time: 6 pm (18 00 hours), assemble at Gate Number 4, Versova Metro Station.

Venue: Our venue at Seven Bungalows, Versova.
Prior to the meet, assembly at Gate Number 4, Versova Metro Station.

Versova is a metro station and the western terminus of Line 1 of the Mumbai Metro serving the Versova neighbourhood of Andheri in Mumbai, India. The station is located at Seven Bungalows.

At 6:30pm: We move to a home venue a few minutes walk away for chat and discussions

Cover: Free Entry; refreshments and tea will be served

As it is a home venue with presence of family members, please dress appropriately; Gay Bombay meets are inclusive, lgbt members and allies are welcome!

8th Sept, 2019: PEP talk with Dr Gilada

GB Presents a PEP talk with DrGilada


You may know all these terms link to one big one – HIV. But its all so confusing and, frankly, scary, you would rather not think or do anything about them.

BIG mistake. HIV is an almost unavoidable risk for gay men and its best to be prepared because of one simple reason: other sexually transmitted diseases can be cured, but HIV still can’t be. If you get it, its a problem for life.

You can still have an entirely normal life if you are HIV+ but it means taking medicines life long which can be expensive, have side effects and cause problems for other medical issues. And, sadly, it still means facing some stigma, even in the gay community.

But now you have options. Safer sex is always the best one. Not combining sex and drugs is always best. And you can also take meds to prevent getting it either before (PrEP) or after (PEP) a possibly unsafe experience.

If there’s a problem you should know how and where to get tested, and how to understand the results. And if you do test HIV+ you should know how to handle it rationally, with access to the latest medicines available in India.

To learn about all this and more come for GB’s special anniversary month session on everything you wanted to know on HIV with DrGilada – a doctor was has been involved with HIV in Mumbai from when it first came.

Dr Gilada has seen the disease change from being death sentence to a manageable condition and also something that can be effectively prevented even though there is, yet, no vaccine.

Along with him we’ll have speakers like Jay Vithalani who has been living with HIV for many years, has written for Poz, the leading US magazine on HIV issues.

The meeting will be completely open to any questions, in an entirely non judgmental way and all confidences will be entirely respected.

Date: 8th September, 2019

Time: 4:30 PM onwards

Venue: First Floor, Doollaly Taproom, Khar West

GayBombay Special Sunday Meet: “High Fun High Risk”: Substance Abuse (12/2015)

By Sachin Jain

'A vortex of dependence'; Image: Brijesh
Image: Brijesh

Date & Time: December 13, 2015, 5:30-8pm

Venue: The Hive, Chuim Village, Khar (West), Mumbai 400052

Participants: 43

Facilitator: Deepak Kashyap

  • Introduction

We are not aware of statistics in the LGBT community in India on drug usage. In the gay community users seem to be a minority, but within that minority, usage appears to be significant. It has been difficult to find resource persons for holding this workshop though Gay Bombay has wanted to for many years. This is because their philosophies tend to be moralistic and while not condoning usage, we wanted a non-judgmental approach. The aim of this workshop is to develop awareness of risks in order to foster assumption of responsibility by LGBTIQ community members.

  • Resources
    • Websites:
  1. The Science of Addiction
  2. Commonly Abused Drugs and Prescription Medicines
  3. Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse
  4. A Provider’s Guide to Substance Abuse Treatment for LGBTI individuals
  5. Others: Effects of individual drugs: Bluelight.org, erowid.org; underlying issues: Chasingthescream.com
  • Videos:

1) Rise of Chemsex on London’s Gay Scene: In the video, users in the London gay community grappled with deep rooted problems of avoidance, intimacy, hiding self, and hyper-vigilance. Smartphone apps have normalized drug use, with no frame of reference. No causal link between chemical sex and HIV but incidences were on the rise. Study of PREP (pre exposure prophylaxis) use saw reduction in HIV.

2) Addiction and the Rat Park experiments: Persons access to functioning social life as important as reducing availability and penalizing usage. Lack of confidence and experiencing loneliness can make it difficult to quit.

  • Exercise

Participants were asked to write their life aspirations on one side of a sheet of paper and substances they knew on the other, with a tick mark for the substance they came into contact with. Differences between ‘drug’ and ‘substance’, ‘dependence’ and ‘addiction’, ‘substance’ and ‘behavior’ dependency were clarified.

  • Stories

“I think it is a problem in our community. My friend started doing crystal meth, few months later he tested positive for HIV, mainly due to lack of judgment and taking more risks.”

“Sex lives viewed as intrinsically connected to drug usage.”

“Using stopped him from caring and protecting himself. Got into a 12-step recovery program, he feels alive again.”

“A gay friend couldn’t go out and speak what he was feeling. He lost job, got into prostitution. Then he had a grand wedding with a woman who didn’t know he was gay. He was taken to mental hospital 3 months later. Now he is completely incommunicado. As friends we tried reaching out at every stage, but didn’t succeed.”

“His father was alcoholic, and partner of 3 years uses drugs. People want to blame everything on drugs, for not doing things right, for failure. They do take vodka shots as dancers before going on stage. A friend has lost partner due to overdose on drugs, but he has also seen moments of pleasure. They take it as artists when they don’t want to feel nervous or judged.”

  • Aspects

(1) Defining addiction or dependence

“Addiction is a behavior that gets in the way of normal day to day duties and life, doesn’t let you achieve your goals in a persistent way. There is a correlation between factors like loneliness etc, but not necessarily causation.”

The role of neurotransmitters, high and low effect of drugs (highs included feeling loved, acceptance, absence of stress), secondary effects (like weight loss), and difference between physiological (body effects like tremors) and psychological addiction (rationalization with ‘but I only have…’), excitatory and inhibition lowering drugs were discussed.

(2) How it begins

“Friends who are not into drugs, met persons through dating site, and try it on their behest. How to be careful about not getting into it?”

“Curiosity, peer pressure, low self-image, thrill, boredom, ignorance, propensity to try everything once, the need for pleasure, the need to appear cool, narration of a user’s positive experience, cause people to begin. There are few healthy spaces for gay men to meet like picnics or socials. Meeting is largely on hookup sites or parties, where you don’t want to talk about anything, just enjoy. Clusters of guys are formed which are very tight, and these may drive behavior of drug use.”

“Nobody reads the “conditions applied” fine print in life. Blame it on the modern world, but we want something more all the time.”

“I have many friends addicted to methadone, with the idea that it gives you glorious sex, though it is not true, as it kills the erection but makes it horny. Before shooting up, they take Viagra and shoot up, so two substances are taken. And it works. Sex is a sure-shot biological way of feeling accepted, desired and wanted, to be let inside their body, a biological evidence of acceptance.”

“Use not only associated with sex, but there is also the party, socializing drug. People do it for these reasons too. Can you be a healthy user, become an abuser, or get out?”

“It is tough to be disciplined all the time, get to work on time everyday, so these parties become our way to unwind. It’s also a way to process past hurts, like a breakup. When you are emotionally low, you are vulnerable and likely to.”

“Drugs replace some kind of a void, like not being successful at work. It may have nothing to do with sex.”

“A friend who does a lot of weed says it is a natural product so it is good for digestion. Is it really good? Medical marijuana was offered to my mom to reduce pain. A form of heroine, morphine given in a way people can manage, dosage on advice of doctor. Frequency, duration and intensity has to be decided by prescriber.”

For Aspects (1) and (2) please see the website provided in the Resource List above: “The Science of Addiction”

(3) Problems from usage

  • Financial both in terms of cost, as well as lost earnings in future.
  • Health: physical and mental aspect.
  • Socio-cultural
  • Interpersonal
  • Productivity

“In India, a big problem with all illegal substances is there is no quality control and adulteration, side effects. Bad stuff may cause higher intake, without knowing the adulterant.”

“One very common substance right now is Meow-Meow: There is a strong desire to re-dose, craving to recapture initial rush, to increase dose to overcome tolerance, uncontrollable changes in body temperature, dehydration due to not drinking water, impaired short term memory, insomnia, teeth grinding, etc”

“If you have sex with a drug user, does it heighten your risk of infections?”

-“ In case of unprotected sex, yes, but consumed drug is likely not transmitted through body fluids. Please look at resources indicated for accurate information.”

“I feel that drugs help with the creative process when taken correctly. I have a friend who does marijuana every night, but is very spiritually evolved, and talking to him makes me feel better. Sensitivity is different in people, and hence effects vary based on internal make-up.”

“There is a spectrum of education available on different substances. For alcohol, the message nowadays is enjoy responsibly. After a few years, that may be so for certain drugs too. There is not enough support for drug usage, forget about for LGBT.”

“MDMA is the main focus, as that is happening a lot in the community. Risks spiral out of control. People who can’t afford, start injecting (slamming) rather than oral. Then issues with needles begin, most don’t know how to inject, no equipment, not sterilized, bacterial contamination, leading to blood to blood contact for sero-conversion.”

“Initially everyone conscious of individual needles, but in a users party, as progressive control of reality is lost, needles start getting shared.”

(4) Usage Persistence

“Human propensity for short-term pleasure, the attraction of forbidden fruit.”

“A person started seeing someone and quit friends, and when broke up, was all alone. Hence took solace in drugs. When you want to leave it and are not able to you must ask for help.

“A doctor didn’t know what weed is, can we have access to doctors who know more about drugs?”

“Drug use and failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Low frustration tolerance is one of the major reasons to continue any addiction.”

For Aspects (3) and (4) please see the websites provided in the Resource List above: “Commonly Abused Drugs and Prescription Medicines” and “Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse”.

(5) How to help

“I have a friend who badly needs help, but if I tell him, he reacts badly. How can I help as he can afford it. Do we have support system within the city?”

“If someone is not willing to get help, when they are in good mood, keep encouraging them by giving them resources and support contacts. Talk to a counselor in earlier stages to figure out the need to get help. Psychotherapist can work on deep seated issues. Clinical psychologist can give you intervention based on which drug you use.”

“In case of an overdose, rush to emergency department of any Grade 1 hospital for anti-toxic treatment.”

“Harm reduction techniques include the ‘gatekeeper policy’, or having a trusted person at hand to make sure one doesn’t do anything harmful to self or others, addressing loneliness and leaving an authentic and social life.”

For Aspect (5) please see the website provided in the Resource List above: “Providers Guide to Treatment for LGBT individuals”

LGBTIQ-positive counseling and support in Mumbai:

1) The Humsafar Trust

2) Ascend Psychology

Getting Tested for HIV

by Jay Vithalani

Getting tested for HIV is never easy. Some people hate needles. Some people are so terrified at the prospect of a “positive” result that they refuse to get tested. Others justify their “test abstinence” by adopting a fatalistic attitude: what good will it do to know my HIV status given that I can do nothing about it? There are also some misconceptions about HIV testing, for instance that the tests are expensive and unreliable.

I want to respond to some of these fears and clear some misconceptions in this brief article. Outlined here are some fundamentals of HIV testing, along with some reasons for getting tested if you are sexually active. Some of the material may seem painfully elementary to the initiated, while a small portion may be a little technical. The aim has been to be comprehensive and as jargon-free as possible. There is also a paragraph about PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis. Finally, there is a list of testing centres in Mumbai, with basic contact information.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I. Facts and Vocabulary

(1) HIV: The acronym stands for Human Immunodefiency Virus, the virus which causes AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDefiency Syndrome). HIV is a relatively difficult virus to contract (Hepatitis B, for instance, is ten times more infectious). HIV works by destroying the body’s natural immune system, thus leaving the body vulnerable to a host of infections. Not everyone who is HIV-positive has AIDS. A person has AIDS only when the body’s immunity falls below a certain level. There are many millions of people who are HIV-positive who don’t have AIDS, thanks largely to drugs developed over the last 20 years. While there have been great advances in the treatment of HIV and AIDS in the last decade, no current treatment eliminates the virus from the body or cures AIDS.

(2) Antibodies: These are cells produced by the body in response to a particular infection. The human body can deal with many mild infections. Thanks to our antibodies, we have either a resistance to or the capacity to deal with infections like the common cold.

(3) Antigens: These are the little things which cause infection, usually a virus or a bacterium.

(4) ELISA: This stands for Enzyme Linked ImmunoAssay, which is quite a mouthful and not in a good way. It’s a very common test procedure in labs. The ELISA test for HIV/AIDS is the standard screening test used to determine whether or not a person is HIV-positive. The ELISA doesn’t detect the virus itself but rather the antibodies the body produces in response to HIV. It is cheap, easy for labs to perform, and extremely accurate (greater than 99%).

(5) Western Blot: This is a much more complicated test than ELISA, used only to confirm a positive ELISA result. It, too, tests for antibodies and not the antigen itself. The Western Blot is not a screening test but a confirmatory test. It is many times more expensive than the ELISA. A person getting routinely tested should almost never get a Western Blot; ELISA is generally accepted as the best first-line test.

(6) Seroconversion: If HIV enters the body, the immune system produces antibodies in response. Seroconversion is the process by which a previously negative person becomes HIV-positive (serum being a big component of blood). Even if HIV has entered the body, a person isn’t technically HIV-positive until antibodies in response to the virus have been produced. The time it takes people to seroconvert varies greatly between individuals. Some people seroconvert (produce antibodies) in a few days, some people take much longer. About 50% seroconvert within 25 days of exposure to HIV. Over 99% seroconvert within 90 days. There have been very rare and isolated cases of seroconversion taking longer than three months.

(7) Window period: Since the ELISA test looks for antibodies rather than the virus itself, you can’t get tested just one hour after a potential exposure. Antibodies can take up to 90 days to appear. After a potential exposure, you should wait for three months before getting tested. A test prior to that wouldn’t be considered accurate, since the virus may be in your body but your body may not have produced antibodies to it. This 90-day period is known as the window period.

(8) Test accuracy (sensitivity and specificity): Both the ELISA and the Western Blot are highly accurate tests. That is to say, in testing jargon, they are both sensitive and specific. For complex reasons, though, high specificity in a test usually comes at the expense of some sensitivity and vice versa. It’s possible to illustrate these two concepts with a simple example. Imagine a bag filled with 1,000 marbles. Most of the marbles are white, let’s say 990 of them. Three marbles are red and seven are yellow. Now, I want to design a test which will detect the presence of the red marbles in the bag. If we say that the red marbles are antibodies to HIV produced by the body and the yellow marbles are antibodies (or other agents) unrelated to HIV, then both the ELISA and Western Blot are extremely good at detecting the red marbles in a crowded bag. Yet, there is a difference between them. ELISA is a highly sensitive test – it is possible, in a very small minority of cases, that it will detect a yellow marble and mistake it for a red one. This is why a positive ELISA has to be confirmed with the Western Blot. The WB is an extremely specific test. It can detect only red marbles. It is theoretically possible, in a vanishing small percentage, that it might “miss” the red marbles, but it will never mistake a yellow (non-HIV) marble for a red (HIV) one. That’s why, for a positive test result, the two tests are used in conjunction.

(9) False positive, false negative: After having said that the tests are extremely accurate (sensitive and specific), every test designed has a certain (very small) degree of fallibility inherent in it. A false positive result is one in which the person tests positive but is in fact negative. This happens in a very small proportion of ELISA tests; in our example above, in the case of a false positive result, the test has mistaken a yellow marble for a red one. So the Western Blot is carried out, which would reveal that the person was in fact negative. A false negative result, on the other hand, is one in which a person is actually positive but the test result comes back as negative. This is most often due to testing having taken place during the window period, before antibodies to HIV have developed.

(10) Rapid testing: The time it takes for ELISA results to come back from the lab varies from same-day results (at some labs, if you go bright and early) to a week or more. Of course, this waiting period can be a time of anxiety and stress. (Some people don’t even go to pick up their results.) Recently, tests have been developed which return a result in 15 to 30 minutes and which perform at ELISA-like accuracy. These rapid tests are now available in large Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Newer versions of the rapid test, available abroad, can even be performed using saliva rather than blood. (In a positive person, saliva has a very low concentration of HIV, enough for detection but not transmission.) It should be added that rapid tests are also antibody tests, like the conventional ELISA and Western Blot, and so the 90-day window period applies to them as well. And if a result comes back positive, it should be confirmed, as always, with the Western Blot.

(11) Other tests: There are tests available which detect the presence of the antigen (virus) rather than the antibodies. The best-known of these is a family of tests using a technique called PCR. They are pretty expensive and technically very complex. But they seem to offer one clear advantage over the antibody tests: since they are looking for the virus itself, with PCR tests you don’t have to bother with the wait and anxiety of the window period. However, the disadvantages of using PCR testing as a first or diagnostic tool are many. First, even with PCR, it is recommended that you wait 28 days after a potential exposure to get the test, since it can take that long for the virus to reach detectable levels in blood. Second, given the complexity of the testing method, PCR tests are more prone to lab error. Third, PCR tests are so sensitive (see above) that they have a much higher rate of false positives than antibody tests. Fourth, they are not considered as definitive diagnostic tools (in other words, a negative or a positive result would have to confirmed at a later date by the conventional antibody tests). Fifth, the expense.

(12) Anonymous vs confidential testing: A confidential test is one in which a lab performs the test for an individual (under his or her name) but doesn’t disclose the test results to anyone other than the person tested or without his/her consent. In an anonymous test, no names are used. The person tested is assigned a number at the time the test is performed. To pick up the results, you present the slip with that number. Obviously, anonymous tests offer a greater measure of privacy than confidential tests. If you’re worried about using your name for a test, you should opt for anonymous testing. Many private labs, however, will perform HIV testing only with a doctor’s prescription.

(13) Counselling: In an ideal testing situation, you would be counselled by a trained person both before the test is performed and after you receive the result (whether the result is positive or negative). Why is counselling important? Well, for one, HIV testing can be a stressful event and a trained counsellor can help you understand and relieve the stress. Second, pre- and post-test counselling is a good time for you to review your safer sex practices with someone who can answer questions and allay doubts. Third, if the test result is positive, a counsellor can speak to you specifically about living with HIV, and if the result is negative, he or she can can help you go over your commitment to remaining so.
II. Why Get Tested?

So you’re thinking of getting an HIV test but still have some doubts. Should you go to that dreaded lab or not? Here are some thoughts on why getting tested is probably a good idea.

(1) If you’re one of the “Worried Well” – the many, many people who are anxious about their HIV status, regardless of their sexual history or risk – then getting a test is a good idea. Your negative status will be confirmed and you can carry on with your life, or obsess about something else.

(2) Knowledge is power. Knowing your status can help you make informed decisions. If you are in fact positive, knowing your status early can be vital in making treatment decisions; this is borne out by both common sense and studies which show that the later that HIV infection is diagnosed, the worse the prognosis. If you have a sexual partner or partners, knowing your status can also help you make decisions about safer sex.

(3) “Why should I get tested when there’s nothing I can do?” The answer to that is: HIV and AIDS are serious conditions, there is of course no doubt of that. But there are two common misconceptions: First, that HIV=AIDS, which is not the case, and second, that being infected with HIV is an automatic death sentence, which it is not. Drug therapy is becoming increasingly available and affordable, and has helped literally millions of people around the world live more or less normal lives with their HIV infection. And many people don’t need antiretroviral therapy for many years after being diagnosed with HIV. Also, new drugs therapies are being developed every year. It is hoped that, within the next decade or two, HIV will become a chronic but manageable condition, like heart disease or diabetes. Giving up hope is not the answer.

(4) Making an annual HIV test part of your routine medical check-up – like an annual mammogram for women over 40 or a periodic blood-pressure check for all businessmen – may be less stressful than going for a test every time you’re irrationally anxious or think you’ve had potentially unsafe sex. While it becomes part of your annual routine, it can also serve as a kind of “reality check”: a reminder that you’re relieved that you’re (probably) negative, that you will remain so, while continuing to enjoy (safer) sex.
III. PEP – post-exposure prophylaxis

This stands for post-exposure prophylaxis (which is a fancy word for prevention). If someone has potentially been exposed to HIV, either in a healthcare setting (a doctor getting an accidental prick from a needle which has been used on a positive patient) or sexually (receptive anal sex, for example, with a person of unknown status) – in both of these situations, PEP can drastically reduce the chances of being infected with HIV. The exposed person takes a course of antiretroviral drugs for 28 days (usually a combination of AZT and 3TC), with the preventive therapy beginning within 72 hours of the exposure. The sooner the therapy is started after the exposure event the more effective it is thought to be. Basically, PEP works by eliminating HIV before it can establish itself in the body. It is sometimes called the “morning after” pill for HIV. Except that the PEP course is 28 days and needs to be followed by the usual tests 90 days or more after exposure. The cost and possible side-effects of the drugs (and probably the psychological trauma as well) mean that PEP is not a blank cheque given to irresponsible barebackers. Used wisely, PEP can be can effective tool in reducing the incidence of HIV.

IV. Testing CentresThere are a number of centres where the test can be done, at costs ranging from nothing to around Rs750/-. This is one case where more money does not necessarily imply better service. Many of the best services, with excellent technical facilities and proper pre-test counselling, and post-test counselling (if the person tests positive) are in the free or low-cost testing centres operated by the government and NGOs.

But these may not be convenient for everyone to access, in which case one can go to the more reputed private centres – but with a cost and no counselling.

(1) Humsafar Center – If you’re looking for a gay-sensitive place for testing, the obvious place is the Humsafar centre in Vile Parle (East), which now does testing six days a week. Earlier the reports had to be collected from Sion Hospital, but now everything is done at the centre. Humsafar now also has counsellors working in five large public hospitals across the city, so one can go to these places for testing and specifically contact these counsellors (on specific days of the week):Humsafar Centre, Vile Parle (East) – 26673800/26650547, ask for Mr.Murgesh, 6 days a week, 4.00 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Other centres with Humsafar counsellors: Borivili: Bhagwati Hospital – contact Mr.Ashok, 9833239249Ghatkopar: Rajawadi Hospital – contact Mr.Shashi, 9892838163, Mon/Tues/WedJuhu: Cooper Hospital – contact Mr.Shyam, 9892822150, Tues/Thurs/Sat

Parel: KEM Hospital – contact Mr.Sandeep, 9819386511, Mon/Wed/FriSion: Sion Hospital – contact Mr.Harish, 9870457574, all days

(2) Saadhan Centres – these are run by Population Services International, a NGO which also ensures that its staff is fully gay-sensitised and gives excellent all round counselling. It uses the rapid test which means you will get the results in one hour. Saadhan has a single helpline which can be called for all details – 2389-2222.
Clinic locations are: Saadhan Clinic-Vashi (Mobile Van), Vashi Truck Terminus, Sector 19, Opp Jhunkha Bhakar kendra, Vashi. M-F 10 am – 6 pm.Saadhan Clinic-Kamathipura, Mumbai- A/50, 7th Lane, Close to jayshree masala centre, Kamathipura, Mumbai 400008. M-F 10 am – 6 pm.Saadhan Clinic-Cotton Green, Mumbai-1st Floor, Opp Ram Mandir, Air Force Station, Cotton Green, Mumbai 400 033. M-F 10 am – 6 pm.

(3) Dr.Amin’s Pathology Laboratory, Tulsiani Chambers, Nariman Point – no counselling, it costs Rs450/- and you have to go by 2.00 p.m. to get the report by 5.30 p.m. the same day. The advantage is that it’s easily accessible for many people in Nariman Point and they will not require a referral from a doctor – you can just walk in. Tel: 22825230 / 22822471 / 22822472 / 22884262

HIV Testing

If you remotely doubt that you are H.I.V. infected, get yourself tested at the following recommended testing Centers.

Getting tested for HIV/AIDS


In case people are interested in getting themselves tested for HIV/AIDS, here’s some information on how:

The basic test can be done at a number of places, and the costs vary. The last time I had one done through my rather expensive GP at Pedder Road it cost 600/-. But its possible to have a reliable test done with proper pre-test counselling (and post test too, of course, in case the result is positve) at no cost.

All one has to do is go to Sion Hospital to Out Patients Depatment #16 (OPD 16 or Skin OPD as its called). Its on the 2nd floor of the New College Building in Sion Hospital, and you can ask to speak to Dr.Maninder Sethia, or to Drs Anand, Santosh or Gautam. The phone number is 4043732.

You can go any day from 9.00-12.00 am and they’ll take the blood sample, and you’ll get the test result 6 days later, though I think they prefer if you come on a Friday or Saturday, when they have full counselling support. I think there’s a pretest counsellor there called Mr.Neil all the time.

Alternately, the sample can be given at the Humsafar centre in Santacruz East, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 5.00-8.00 pm. The doctors from Sion Hospital who will be there at those times will give a full check up for all sexually transmitted diseases, and will take the blood sample for the HIV test. The results will have to be collected from Sion Hospital though since they feel that the post test counselling, if needed, is best done in the hospital.

Please note that in both places the testing is absolutely free, is very thorough, and that your confidentiality will be absolutely respected. If you can’t go to Humsafar, but are still apprehensive of how you’ll be treated at the hospital, you can tell them you have been referred through Humsafar and you will be treated separately, with some formalities waived and given a separate area in which to wait.

There’s no easy way to do testing, or to alleviate the anxieties that come with doing it (no matter how safe you think you’ve been). But it is possible to do it fairly efficiently and with proper counselling available if needed and this is how.

A new voluntary testing facility connected to Humsafar Trust goes on line on December 1st, World AIDS Day this year.

The VTC is at the Cooper Hospital’s blood bank section behind the new OPD.It will be open every day between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. However, the Humsafar Trust’s pre-test and post test counselors and positive person group manager sit in Ward 24 near by for any help needed only on Tuesday and Thursdays.

The Address:
Cooper Hospital Blood Bank
Please ask for Dr. Jayanti Shastri
Behind Cooper Hospital OPD
Juhu Vile-Parle Scheme
Mumbai 400049

This facility of the Humsafar Center for positive persons from the gay and MSM community also counsels the women partners of MSM and an average of eight persons attend the counselor’s sessions each Tuesday and Thursday between 9 a.m.and 1 p.m.

The VTC started after advocacy with the BMC health authorities that MSM did not have any facility in the western suburbs.

The VTC is open to everyone on all days but it is open with a special counselor for MSM only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

New Delhi
In New Delhi, the following 4 Testing facilities are on the referral of Naz Foundation (I) Trust. Since the Naz Foundation has been interacting with these agencies for a while, they’re fairly sensitive to realted HIV and MSM issues. In addition, there are scores of private clinics in delhi but they are quite exorbitant.

  • Safdarjung Hospital
    Model Counseling Center
    Room No. 542
    5th floor
    New OPD Building
    Tel: 6198438, 6165060, 6165032
    Timings: (for making the card): 9 AM to 11 AM
    Charges: Free
    Test result: In 7 days
  • Specialty Ranbaxy Limited
    C/o Indian Spinal Injuries Center
    Vasant Kunj
    New Delhi- 110070
    Ph: 6137615, 6137573
    Timings: You need to take an appointment on phone
    Cost: General- Rs. 375
    Naz referral- Rs. 300
    Test result: 3 days
  • National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)
    Shamnath Marg, New Delhi
    Ph: 3934517, 3971060
    Timings: You need to take an appointment on phone
    Cost: Free
    Test result: 7 days
  • Dr. Lal Pathlabs Pvt. Ltd.
    54, Hanuman Road,
    Connaught Place
    New Delhi- 110001
    Ph: 3746426, 3342046, 3342075
    Cost: Rs. 350
    Test Result: Next Day
  • – Vikram