Wide scale misinformation about HIV and AIDS is making life impossible for victims in an Uttar Pradesh village.
A 25-year-old woman along with her three children here has been turned an outcast by her in-laws for being affected with AIDS that she contacted from her husband.†
Her in-laws have ostracized the mother and her kids after her taxi driver husband died. He used to work in Mumbai.
"My in-laws told me to leave the home. I pleaded and asked how I could leave the home just like that. They told me that till the time my husband survived you were allowed to stay but now since he is no more, it is better if I leave their place as well," said Badrunnisha, the widow and AIDS affected.
Although the Government has launched a nation-wide programme to educate the people about the disease, the stigma is still widely prevalent.
Social workers from a voluntary forum have taken up her cause to help Badrunnisha to regain her rightful place in the society.†††
"The way Badrunnisha has been forced out of her husband's home is absolutely unfair. She got this (disease) from her husband. They can't blame her for this. She should get all her due rights and be allowed to stay with her family again," said Pooja Yadav, a social worker in Pratapgarh District.
District health officials call the unfortunate development as the result of social stigma.
"We have told our (health) workers to explain and enlighten the villagers about the disease, and that it can happen to anybody, anywhere and anytime. And we are following up with the development," said Dr. Ram Gopal Verma, Chief Medical Officer, Pratapgarh.
India has roughly 2.5 million people infected with HIV, less than half the number of cases that previous studies estimated.
An earlier U.N. study had estimated 5.7 million HIV cases, which would have been the highest total in the world. But as per the latest available data, India, which has a population of 1.1 billion, has fewer HIV cases than South Africa and Nigeria.