Sunday, June 21, 2009

Discrimination against 'positive' persons.Another shocking story

Authorities at the Guru Govind Singh Government Hospital in Jamnagar,Gujarat,India labelled a 25-year-old pregnant woman as ‘HIV positive’ with a sticker on her forehead and paraded her in the hospital in the presence of her six-month-old daughter and mother-in-law, on Saturday June 20, 2009.

Yes, news report of yet another inhuman and cruel discrimination against HIV positive persons. This is depressing reading. I watched the news report in NDTV too and was shocked to see the video clip showing the woman's full face.How can the TV channels be so in-sensitive!!!

I had posted about stigma and discrimination against HIV positive persons before, especially about that I encountered in my clinical practise. Read some of them here.

Why there is Stigma and Discrimination against HIV positive persons?

1. Fear of contagion,ie the irrational fear that going near a 'positive' person will make you 'positive'.

2.HIV/AIDS is still considered by many as a death warrant.

3. Being 'positive' is considered 'immoral' by many people.It is considered to be a result of sins committed or due to Personal irresponsibility and deserve to be punished.

4, Many believe that HIV positive persons are vengeful and try their best to transmit the disease.

Why there should not be any Stigma or discrimination against HIV positive persons?

1. HIV is not transmitted from person to person by social or even intimate contacts. Read here how HIV is not transmitted.

2.HIV/AIDS is not a Death Warrant. It is a chronic manageable disease like Diabetes and Hypertension.

3. HIV/AIDS is just like any other disease.There is nothing immoral about it.More than 70 percent of positive persons in the World are those who never had sex outside marriage and had never abused IV drugs.

4. Discrimination against HIV positive persons will increase the transmission of the virus and epidemic will explode further. Seeing the discrimination in the Society a 'positive' person [who fears he/she is positive but has not tested] will be reluctant to test for HIV. They will continue to transmit the disease. If one knows he/she is 'positive' they will not reveal it, fearing stigma.Thus they will not get counselling and treatment which will reduce transmission. A pregnant 'positive' woman,like the one who was discriminated in Jamnagar should take medicines to prevent transmission of the virus to her child. Stigma will prevent her doing that and she may get a 'positive' child.

I can add on many more points,but the message remains the same.

A society that discriminates against HIV positive persons is fuelling the epidemic in its midst.

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