Social Protection That Works for PLHIV - a Compendium of Case Studies From 8 States
The report with the National AIDS Control Organisation documents the experiences of PLHIVs in accessing social protection schemes and outlines challenges faced in accessing benefits and successful approaches to overcoming these hurdles.
PLHIV have mixed experience in accessing the social protection schemes. While on the one hand they receive support and encouragement from organisations like DLNs and NGOs and some pro-active governance official, on the other they also need to deal with corrupt practices, red tape, and perceived and enacted stigma.
Respondents have received support from different sources in accessing their entitlements. The DLNs provide information on schemes and help fill the applications. DLNs often collect applications and submit them in bulk. Some beneficiaries have been approched by department officials or NGO staff informing them of their eligibility for certain schemes and helping them apply. A few have paid a fee for support from people knowledgeable about the schemes and procedures. Support from all these quarters has been very useful and has given PLHIV confidence to access schemes and the eased the process for access.
Many respondents share that the approvals were timely. A few report inordinate delays in getting benefits or need to follow-up constantly before the benefits accrue.
Respondents expressed exasperation over corrupt practices like demand for bribes to hasten the approvals or not releasing the full benefits. One repondent from UP shares her story on how perseverance can succeed in getting full benefits without payments.
For schemes that are accessed as part of the general category, PLHIV do not need reveal their status. However, perceived or actual stigma are barriers that inhibit them from accessing the entitlements under HIV-sensitive (modified) or exclusive schemes. Respondents in Maharashtra experienced stigma while accessing loans. This can be overcome by collective strength when they approched the officials as a group and demanded accountability. Perceived (fear of) stigma discouraged a respondent from AP to access the double nutrition scheme. Counselling and support from the DLN staff helped her overcome her fears. Delivery of entitlements through DLNs is a possible solution for addressing perceived and actual stigma as is seen in the nutritional support scheme of Nagaland. However, this may be possible only in HIV-specific schemes.
Perceptions of PLHIV on social protection schemes vary with regard to relevance, access, utility and satisfaction. However, there is unanimity on the need for social protection. They also perceive a need for support in accessing schemes and addressing stigma and confidentially issues. The study finds that there is good intent, but there is still a long way to go to address the vulnerabilities of PLHIV.