Jyoti is a woman, who dons many hats. A popular blogger, a social activist, an HIV counsellor and social media and public relations head for the company, she is all of this, and more. Jyoti has overcome all the hurdles that has come her way, and that’s what makes her exemplary.
Jyoti, who started her inspirational journey as an HIV activist, is now member of International Steering Committee for Prevention Access Campaign and Community Advisory Board for the Well Project.
Sharing her journey with My Medical Mantra, Jyoti said, “I tested HIV positive when I was three months pregnant. It wasn’t easy. However, I took it in my stride like I did with all other hardships that came my way. As a routine I used to update people through my blog about my daily life.” She chose social media to provide strength to fellow HIV positive people.
“I chose the social media to reach out to as many people as I could. I wanted to inform people and get rid of the stigma associated with HIV,” said Jyoti. “Only awareness will make the world better for place to live in. I blogged about everything, starting from side-effects of medication to how I fought with my own insecurities and fears,” she added.
Jyoti has been associated with The Well Project since 2012, and is now a Community Advisory Board member, representing India.” She strongly believes that there’s ‘no shame in being HIV positive, and there’s a lot of power in positivity’. “My life has been a positive spin of surprises,” she quipped.
Jyoti said a change is already happening and the myths around HIV are already being shattered. “The present generation is quick to understand and accept that HIV is just an illness and can be kept under control with medication,” she added.
Touching upon the sensitive issue of marital rape, which she was herself subjected to, Jyoti said, “Rape is rape, whether by your husband or anybody else. Being forced upon, without consent is rape. Most Indian men believe they have a right over their wife’s body after marriage.” She was subjected to domestic abuse and was forced to undergo three abortions.
“All of this eventually broke my marriage. But I felt I needed to step up and free myself from the shackles of patriarchy. I am in a positive space now only because I made the decision to not suffer abuse,” Jyoti emphasised. She is in a happy marriage and remains strong as ever.
“My struggles go back to when I was only three. I suffered from bilateral sensory-neural hearing loss, the cause of which is still unclear. Such a hearing loss means I can hear sounds only above 80 decibels or above. I was told that it happened due to a vehicular accident, but I have no memory of it. Doctors tend to disagree claiming it to be a result of physical abuse,” she recalled.
Jyoti said she wears a digital hearing aid which helps her to hear certain sounds. “The device doesn’t fix much for me as it amplifies the background noises. I can read lips mostly, and if I don’t follow, I ask people to rephrase or write things down,” she said.
When asked about whether she has heard from her mother, she said she did meet her. “I had a very different childhood, which I wouldn’t want to talk about. It was in Class 9 when I met my biological mother. It was an experience that changed my life,” is all she disclosed.
Jyoti lights up when she’s asked about her future plans. “I want to leave a legacy behind. I am planning on writing a book about my life to inspire others like me. Like my name, I wish to be the ‘ray of hope’ for others,” she signed off.