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‘Treat AIDS patients like normal patients’

AGARTALA, Mar 7 – Voicing concern over spiraling HIV positive cases, Tripura Health Minister Tapan Chakraborty has called upon the society to treat AIDS patients or HIV positive carriers like a ‘normal’ patient.

Though AIDS is a non-communicable disease, people have a misconception about the ailment inviting social stigma or discrimination for the AIDS patients, he said while speaking at a sensitisation programme on Stigma, Discrimination and Mainstreaming on HIV/AIDS : Role of Media at Prajna Bhavan here recently.

Asserting that social stigma is a major obstacle in the fight against AIDS/HIV, Chakraborty said, “Vulnerable section of the people don’t want to get their blood samples tested fearing social stigma or isolation from the society. In some cases, patient’s family members don’t want to keep him/ her in the house. This kind of mind set must be changed by way of sensitising the people at large”.

He further said, “If we can live with cancer or hyper tension patients why the AIDS/ HIV positive patient would not stay with us? We have to make people understand the disease AIDS is also non-communicable”.

Giving a brief history on the vulnerability of AIDS/HIV cases, he said the State has only 1,155 HIV positive cases while 438 patients have been diagnosed with AIDS during the past 14 years. And, a total of 127 AIDS patients have fallen prey to the disease.

Chakraborty also called upon the Centre to think about the rehabilitation of AIDS/HIV positive carriers as they have been facing a lot of problem.

In the same tune, Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Bhanu Lal Saha also urged the society to change the mindset on the AIDS/ HIV positive cases. “There are AIDS/ HIV positive carriers, who don’t want to admit their disease fearing social stigma or isolation. We have to dispel the misconception centering on the AIDS or HIV positive”, he said.

Saha also laid emphasis on sensitisation of student community about the disease so that they could avoid such kind of disease. Dr Madhu Sharma, Mainstreaming Cell of Delhi AIDS Control, New Delhi shared his experience on how AIDS/ HIV positive carriers have been socially isolated in spite of awareness programmes.

The one-day programme was organised by Tripura AIDS Control Society (TDCS).