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Home > News > Report

'Hospital staff treat HIV patients like pariahs'

Vijay Singh in Mumbai | April 22, 2005 00:31 IST

Tuesday, April 20, 2005

Kashi (name changed) jumps off the fifth floor ofJ J Hospital in Mumbai and commits suicide.

Monday, April 19, 2005

Tukaram (name changed) commits suicide in similar fashion.

Kashi and Tukaram were HIV-positive and were being treated at the hospital.

In 2004 too there were twocases of HIV-positive patients committing suicide in J J hospital.

Why are they so many suicides happening? What has the hospital done to check the trend?'s Vijay Singh finds out.

More then 100 HIV-positive patients are being treated at J J Hospital.

Ever since the 2004 incidents, the hospital authorities have been trying hard to prevent suicides -- from arranging counselors to covering the ward with steel grilles.

But the suicides continue.

Doctors and the counselors are of the opinion that patients are driven to suicide mostly due to fear of social stigma.

Most HIV patients, who belong to the lower class, have no knowledge of HIV and consider it a social shame. In most cases, the family members also shun them.

It is when those on whom they are dependent turn their backs that the patients start thinking they are a burden, said a doctor.

A doctor, who did not want to be identified, said: "Sometimes, patients are not even able to move around the hospital for various tests because the lifts don't work. The hospital staff also treats them like untouchables. They often abuse them. This sows negative thoughts in the patients' minds."

One suicide case drives others to think along the same lines too, he said.

"Under such circumstances, patients need constant counseling," Dr Vinod Agarwal, Associate Professor of Forensic Medicine, J J hospital, said.

Regarding counseling, hospital dean P H Shnigare says: "We have pre- and post-HIV counseling centres in our hospital. We train our staff on how to deal with the patients so they don't feel isolated and depressed."

The councilors think social stigma and lack of family support are the main reasons that drive the patients to take the extreme step.

"There have been cases when family members keep patients separately in the house. They even have separate utensils for them. They are treated like untouchables. Lack of awareness leads to such behaviour," said Meera, a counselor at the hospital.

The main job of the counselors is to convince the patients they too can live a normal life if they take proper treatment.

Meera said: "Many patients think they will be shunned if the family gets to know the truth and hide the facts from them. We have to convince them to go for a test and also bring their immediate kin for counseling. Once we can get them to believe us, half the problem is solved."

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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 4

Sub: about the patients of HIV.

This is a big problame to educate our society for HIV positive patients. How to behive with them. you knows when his parrents will ignore ...

Posted by kriushna kant ojha

Sub: HIV Disease

Even in the hospitals from doctor to Aaya treats the patients as untouchable and keep the utensils separate as though after touching the utensils they ...

Posted by abha

Sub: HIV!!! a leper of today

Pure ignorance and nothing else is the root of the poor treatment of these unfortunate people. Also as a medical professional I must admit the ...

Posted by Abu Abraham

Sub: Easier said than done

Just ask the question to yourselves how you would treat a person if you come to know he/she is HIV positive. You will get the ...

Posted by rahul



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