December 6th, 2005

Chris Keeley

a multiplicity of high-risk groups. Intravenous drug users concentrate in northeastern states. Devad

December 6, 2005
India Accelerating | An Epidemic Spreads

On India's Roads, Cargo and a Deadly Passenger

NELAMANGALA, India - Hot water: 10 rupees. Cold water: 8 rupees. Toilet: 5 rupees.

Sex: no price specified on the bathhouse wall, but, as the condom painted there suggests, safe.

Sangeetha Hamam, a bathhouse, sits on the national highway near this gritty truck stop about nine miles north of Bangalore. Its mistress is Ranjeetha, a 28-year-old eunuch who lives as a woman. Her lipstick and black dress provide a touch of glamour in the small dark shack.

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Migrants leave home to work, but go home to die. At the hospital in Satara, a prospering city on the highway south of Mumbai, Mr. Kamkar, the taxi driver, now 32, lay breathless on a hospital bed. His luck had run out, and not just because he had contracted H.I.V. Only 25 hospitals and health centers were prescribing antiretroviral drugs. They were available in Guntur, but not 12 miles south in Chilakaluripet. They could be had in Mumbai - but not in Satara.

All Mrs. Kamkar, 25, a mother of two, could do was take her husband back to their village, try to ease his pain and nurse him until the end.

"It's a matter of his destiny," she said.