Mother, new-born suffer HIV stigma at Chhattisgarh government hospital
RAIPUR: In a case of
discrimination against HIV patients, staff of Dr BR Ambedkar Hospital here put
up a hand written notice of 'universal precautions' on the bedside of a HIV
positive women and her newly born child, who has not been confirmed to be suffering
from the disease.
The woman, who
delivered the child on July 2, was shocked to find the notice put up by her
bedside and the cradle for the baby in a ward, which had 24 other women. The
humiliation of the couple did not end with just the notice, as the staff kept
addressing the women as ‘HIV walli’ instead of her name.
Recounting what he
termed as humiliating days, the husband said while the staff in the ward
addressed all the women with their first names, his wife was called ‘HIV walli’.
He said his requests to the staff to refrain from doing so made no difference
and they were made to feel like outcastes in the ward.
Though at present there
are no comprehensive laws in India to deal with such discrimination with HIV/AIDS
infected people and their rights, India is signatory to various international
treaties and agreements that provide for protection against such
A leading lawyer
pointed out that Bombay High court had ruled that the court would permit HIV
positive litigant to conceal his or her identity and prosecute or defend the
proceedings under an assumed name.
“When the law is clear,
then why isn’t it followed in the hospital,” questioned Rinki Arora, president
of Chhattisgarh Network of Positive. Admitting that it could be in the interest
of the staff to know that an individual is a HIV patient, Rinki said the status
of the individual could be mentioned on their health sheets and the
prescriptions rather than publically declaring her status.
“The hospital staff has
already branded the child HIV positive with the poster on the side of the
cradle,” she added.
Advocacy officer of
Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust, Amruta Alpesh Soni, who also
visited the hospital, said the hospital had violated NACO guidelines.
hospital’s public relation officer, Shubhra said the staff put up the notice to
make duty nurses aware of the patient’s status. She, however, admitted that it
was wrong to address the patient by her HIV status and the administration would
look into it.