How Pradipkumar shed HIV tag to become champion bodybuilder!
New Delhi, Aug 24 (PTI) From fighting psychological trauma, stigma and discrimination of being HIV-positive to becoming an international bodybuilding champion, Khundrakpam Pradipkumar Singh has come a long way. His incredible journey is the subject of a new book "I am HIV Positive, So What?: A World Champion's Fight Against Drugs, Disease and Discrimination" by Jayanta Kalita and published by Bloomsbury India. Until December 15, 2007, Singh was nobody. The very next day he was known across his state as 'Mr Manipur'. And soon after he lifted the title, Singh came out in the open with his HIV-positive status. "It is best to be honest with yourself and face facts. That is half the battle won. That is why I decided to disclose my HIV-positive status to the world," he once said. Singh got into the habit of doing drugs when he was a student in the 1990s. And it was probably then that he contracted AIDS. "Having discovered that he was HIV positive was a body blow for Singh. The period from March 2000 to 2002 proved to be the darkest phase of his life," the book says. It was almost like a living death for Singh. But he was determined to break the stereotype of being branded as an AIDS victim. Singh took it as a challenge to prove everyone wrong and towards the end of 2003, he seriously thought about resuming his exercises. To his luck, his health was getting slightly better and he regained some weight. He then began to visit the gym and lift weights. His doctor, however, warned him not to do heavy exercises or go for weight training. But Singh decided to go ahead, keeping his doctor in the dark. And finally his D-day arrived. He took part in the 'Mr Manipur' competition on November 26, 2006 and bagged the silver medal in the senior 60 kg category. And from then, it was no looking back. He became the champion the next year and subsequently took part in Mr India contests. In 2010, he bagged the silver medal at the 50th Mr India contest in Goa and two years later, was crowned 'Mr South Asia'. He won a bronze medal in the 'Mr World' championship in Bangkok in 2012. Since then, he hasn?t taken part in any major event. "Now, I need to be more careful about my body since I have been on ART for so many years. I am growing older and doctors advised me against doing rigorous exercises," he says. Singh, 45, is now employed as a physical trainer at the department of sports and youth affairs of the Manipur government. He was made brand ambassador for HIV/AIDS by the Manipur State AIDS Control Society and was roped in by the India chapter of a global non-profit to lead a pan-India HIV awareness campaign from Delhi. Singh also took up the cudgels to sensitise people to the ill-effects of drug abuse, to which Manipur is the biggest victim in northeast India