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Chhattisgarh News
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 non-discrimination.

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.

When contacted, 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.