Death too is a lonely affair for HIV+ in Goa

PANAJI: The discovery of the body of 45-year-old Vasco resident, Ajay, at the bus stop near Goa Medical College and Hospital on August 21, 2008 has emphasized the discrimination HIV positive persons face in Goa.

Agassaim police, who shifted the body to the GMC morgue said that Ajay, who had made the bus stop his home since the second week of August, was probably abandoned by his relatives.

Ajay’s is not an isolated case. "Once family members know of a relative’s HIV status they abandon them. Very often relatives don’t even claim the body after death," said GMC dean Dr V N Jindal.

"We continue to live with stigma and face discrimination from an indifferent society and unsympathetic relatives. Many of us live without dignity and die stigmatised," says Jafar Inamdar, president of Positive Lives Foundation.

Preetu   Nair, for The Times of India

If life after infection isn’t easy, death is also a lonely affair. Take the case of Abdul from Panaji, who was admitted to GMC on July 27 and expired on August 3, 2008. Till date no one has come forward to claim the body.

"Often relatives furnish fake details while admitting a HIV positive patient at GMC. Once the patient dies, the police have difficulty in obtaining a no objection certificate to dispose off the body," said forensic department head, Dr Silvano Sapeco.

Despite awareness campaigns and programmes to dispel myths about HIV/AIDS, the stigma attached to the disease continues to haunt patients. Dr Jindal added that people still fear that "HIV/AIDS can spread through touch."

Goa State AIDS Control Society (GSACS) project director Dr Pradeep Padwal agrees that despite efforts to dispell the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, people are still scared.

"Its not easy to change the mindset. People are aware about HIV, but find it difficult to accept if a family member is infected with HIV," said Padwal.



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