India is said to have the largest number of HIV/AIDs sufferers in the world. Most people contracting and living with HIV are in their 20’s or 30’s. LOK clinic functions under the umbrella of the Bethany Christian Hospital in one of the large slum areas of Thane, near Mumbai. A team of 10 people visits 310 patients twice every month in their homes, confirming that patients are taking their medicines and taking the opportunity to share the gospel each time they visit.
Each day begins with a time of Bible reading and prayer, then the team divides into 5 sub-groups of 2 to carry out their daily schedule of visits, visiting 5-6 patients each day. The main sources of referral are inpatient admissions or outpatients who have been seen by acute services staff. The purpose of these visits is to share the gospel and monitor/encourage patients to take their medicines. The latter is crucial so they can continue working and sustain employment to provide income to support their families. The stigma attached to HIV/AIDs is huge in India and so the team members have to conduct their programme of visits discreetly and with great sensitivity.
The LOK clinic also organises medical camps on a periodic basis in the slums of Thane, where testing for HIV and other medical conditions is carried out and referral to hospital services is arranged as required. Where interest is expressed in the Christian faith, people are invited to attend “Positive Friends meetings”, which are held periodically in the hospital or at a venue in the community.