Buladi campaign comes a cropper

TAMLUK, July 8: The litany of woes related to HIV/AIDS continues unabated in the rural fringes of West Bengal. Though, the state health department often claims that its AIDS awareness mascot, Buladi has been a success, but her campaign seems to have fallen flat even in the urban areas of Midnapore East district with the victims of the deadly disease being socially ostracised.

This was proven recently, when a 27-year old woman and her family were ostracised by their neighbours at their village near Kolaghat after she tested HIV positive

This comes at a time when one of the themes of Global AIDS Week of Action (GAWA) in India for this year includes the lack of progress on the HIV Bill 2006. In this regard, the Bengal Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (BNP+), a state-level network run by and for people living with HIV/AIDS in West Bengal has teamed up with Human Right Law Networks (HRLN) to hasten ratifying the HIV Bill by taking public opinions through seminars and meeting across the state.

According to the family members, the victim, mother of a seven-year-old daughter, was diagnosed to have been infected three months ago and underwent treatment for about 75 days at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. She returned home to her parents house near the Kolaghat Thermal Power station on 30 June and was socially ostracised by the neighbours.

Statesman News Service

The victim frequently suffered from diarrhoea along with fever for the last few months and she was admitted to the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. Her blood was examined at the School of Tropical and Medicine where she tested HIV positive.

“When she was detected as an HIV positive patient, the doctors advised her to return home and take nutritious food by which she would be cured. As the hospital refused to give further treatment to her, we brought her home but after learning details of the disease, we think that she should not be released by the hospital,” the victims husband, who is a contract worker and stays at Haldia said.

The victims parents have also complained that the child is being prevented from attending school by the villagers and the family has to rely on relatives to purchase their daily provisions.
They are even prevented from using the pond outside their home and none of their neighbours speak to them or visit them.

When asked about the matter, the chief medical officer of health Mr Rabi Kinkar Nayek said: “After hearing about the incident, I had sent my block medical officer of health to the victims house and asked him to submit a report to me. In the meantime, he has organised a meeting there and tried to motivate the people so that they don’t socially ostracise the family further”.

Mr Tarit Chakraborty, president of Bengal Network said, “I have collected the details of the case and asked the president of our local unit to establish communication with the victim. We will try our best to ensure that the victim can lead a normal life and get proper treatment and facilities from the health department.”

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