Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
Hospital staff in Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR) in Odisha’s Sambalpur district left the body of an HIV-positive patient abandoned for over 12 hours, allegedly fearing infection from touching the body.
“After the patient’s death, we informed the police as he was destitute. Police should have taken the body and kept it in their custody for 72 hours for any of his relatives to claim it. We also called a meeting to enquire about the matter,” NDTV quoted VIMSAR Superintendent Jaysree Dora as saying.
Dora said that the patient had come to the hospital with a serious eye condition. He was given initial treatment but later died as his condition worsened. Testing the patient’s blood, the doctors found him to be HIV positive.
“We are enquiring about any negligence that might have taken place and how long the body was left on the bed and not shifted. But, at the same, it was the responsibility of the police and not of the hospital authorities to look for the destitute patient’s relatives,” she said.
Later, the body was shifted to the mortuary at the hospital.
When HIV initially emerged, living with it was almost like serving a death sentence that carried a tremendous social stigma and ignorance. Even today, the unawareness crosses all boundaries, hospitals and doctors are often reluctant to treat people with HIV.
People with HIV are shamed and blamed and judged. They are subjected to various forms of discrimination – often refused shelter, denied a share of household property, refused access to treatment and care. Women are sometimes blamed for a husband’s HIV diagnosis.
Unfortunate as it is, lack of awareness and education makes people believe that HIV can be transmitted through touch. To reiterate, HIV can only be transmitted through specific body fluids. People who still believe that touching, hugging, shaking hands with someone affected by HIV can, in turn, affect them, need to educate themselves.
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