Story of an HIV patient in Raichur’s Lingasugur taluk.
“I was tested positive during a blood camp organized by school and had no idea about it. The doctors revealed my personal medical information to the Principal, who further complained to the parents, leading to conflicts and removing me from my workplace,” said Vanitha, a 39-year-old woman as she was removed from her workplace.
Taluk Health Officer, Rudra Gowda said, “We supported her by filing a case against the school. Officers came in from Bangalore to have formal conversations with school authorities. Even though parents resisted the school offered her another job and she rejected it. Now as we know she is independently living.” The School authorities denied commenting on the issue of being inquired.
Vanitha said “I have no problem in going back to the school if they reappoint me. The only reason I stopped to fight the case was considering my daughters future.” Unawareness pertaining to HIV/AIDS affects patients psychologically particularly when society discriminates. Since the commencement of the HIV epidemic in the 2oth century, the world has witnessed advancement in terms of cure and there is a fifty percent decline in newly reported cases in India.
Unawareness prevalent in rural and urban areas discriminates HIV patients to the core. Mahadev Patil, a medical counselor at Taluk Medical Hospital said “NACO provides patients facing discrimination with legal help but such patients don’t avail it because of societal pressure. Discrimination is comparatively higher in rural areas. People are not educated properly about HIV/Aids.” District health office conducts awareness programs every six months. Such camps organized are insufficient to tackle the darkest facet of HIV/AIDS.
Karnataka-the third highest state in terms of HIV patients has several cases of societal discrimination leading to the removal of individual from jobs and putting them into isolation. According to Taluk Health office, Lingasugur, lifespan has considerably increased by 88 percent decrease in death rates compared to 2016-17.
Contradiction to such vast improvement, stigma pertaining to HIV still exists in the society. Hosabelaku, an NGO working for HIV positive people reports that more than 40 percent of HIV patients either face discrimination within their families or in society. Hosabelaku conducts inspections at the ART center’s in Raichur every Thursdays.
Meena Lakshmi, Cluster worker at Hosabelaku said, “Such case of stigma hurts the whole community of HIV patients substantially. School authorities provided her salary for one year after she rejected the offer. Now that salary is also stopped, making her go to houses to do manual labor.”
A United Nations Aids update report states the majority number of people still hold stigma discriminatory attitudes. In a survey conducted across 53 countries, 38 percent of people between the age group of 15-49 denied buying anything from HIV patients. Vanitha is one of many such patients discriminated in this world.