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Thursday, June 21, 2007

The scourge of HIV/ AIDS

In Kolkata, doctors in a government hospital in Kolkata forced a pregnant HIV-positive woman to abort her baby. Refusing to help her, they instructed her from a distance on how to pull out the fetus herself. There have been several reports of doctors throwing medicines at HIV infected people from a distance. And once a year, we get to hear of infected people being lynched, stoned or at best chased away by common people. Such attitude can be seen worldwide: there are reportedly several AIDS villages in China where the government has isolated HIV infected people leaving them to a life full of misery and there are reports of infected people being incarcerated in Cuba.

Everyone has betrayed the unfortunate people who were infected by HIV. Scientists and corporations have failed to find a cure after twenty five years of research. Insurance companies never cover the infected people even though they are the most in need for insurance. (Almost all health insurance contracts have a clause that frees them from providing relief if a person were to catch the virus before or after the contract was signed). . As for governments, many of them, sure of support from the majority, have formalized extremely inhumane restrictions for the patients. FTAs between liberal democracies have kept costs of life saving drugs prohibitive.

Religions have failed them by not succeeding in making their followers show compassion for the infected, let alone accept them. Some religions are saying it is a just punishment for the immoral which for them are the homosexuals and the adulterersAnd what about humanity as a whole? We can respect a person who gets heart disease after years of gluttony and when it comes to a person who has caught HIV because of one fateful incident, he is immediately considered worse than the lowest animal. They become untouchable, with no soft words for them, and no one to even pause for a moment and consider how they feel. Never in our life do we bother about how these patients, who make up more than twenty five to fifty million in the world, feel. Even the Family, haloed as the supreme of all institutions, rejects the infected in several instances.

The virus is too powerful, having fooled twenty five years of research. It had apparently led to the downfall of the hippie movement, replacing it with a world without ideals. And the virus, like all other human miseries, has affected most the poorest regions of the world, in Africa and India, people who held on to their faith despite their constant fight for survival. But is there any hope? Universal screening plans, as being drawn up in many countries such as the USA, will go a long way in providing better control over the disease. A few insurers like AllLife in South Africa are offering insurance to the HIV+.

A combination of anti-retroviral drugs is deemed quite effective in suppressing the levels of HIV in the body to undetectable levels. It is also possible to prevent transmission from mother to child through appropriate medication. However, these medications also have several side-effects and therefore for those already infected, medication should be started only after the infection has reached a certain stage. Early testing for HIV, a healthy lifestyle, and appropriate timing for commencing the anti-retroviral treatment regime with strict adherence can ensure that an HIV infected person has a life span similar to anyone else. Now, if only attitudes were to change.


Cuckoo said...

It's a shame on the society.

Dev said...

Anti retrovirals have converted it from lethal to chronic desease so a person can lead a normal life without threat of infecting others or mother to child. Awareness is lacking if people were aware that it is a chronic desease like high blood pressure or diabetes maybe the fear psychosis would go. Remember leprosy and the stigma associated with it. Our knowledge of HIV has increased manyfold over the last few years enabling the development of effective vaccines. Sanofi should be should be launching in a year or two and others will follow.

Fear is often irrational compounded by ignorance.


Shivaji said...


Thanks for expanding on anti-retrovirals.

In fact, a few insurance companies have come to the conclusion that the risk profile of an HIV+ person who takes good care of himself is not worse than that of a diabetic. People such as Magic Johnson are doing well 16 years after being detected hiv+