There have been many misconceptions regarding HIV. Due to lack of awareness, the people suffering from this disease are often considered incompatible and treated differently. As things turn out, the misconception has grown so much that these people are treated differently even after their death. According to Times of India, people of a village in Karnataka have started draining a 35-acre lake near them after an HIV-positive woman committed suicide by jumping into it a week ago.
Lack of awareness creating problems again
On November 29, a body of a woman suffering from HIV was found in the lake of Morab village which is situated 30-km from Hubbali. Soon, word spread that the lake was contaminated, creating a panic among the villagers. They have stopped using water from the lake and trek two to three km to the Malaprabha canal to fetch water. Even on explaining that the water was still safe to be used, the villagers did not listen and pressurised the gram panchayat into draining the lake.
One of the villagers, Pradeep Hanikere said that the officials cannot expect the villagers to drink water from a lake in which a dead body was found when they themselves cannot drink from a bottle of water which has a speck of dirt in it. This is the biggest lake in Navalgund taluk and is the only source of drinking water for the villagers.
Villagers refusing to listen to reason
The Dharwad district health officer Dr Rajendra Doddamani says that even after explaining to the villagers that HIV does not spread through water, people are not convinced, due to which they have started draining the lake.”The human immunodeficiency virus(HIV) spreads only through body fluids. Outside the human body, the virus cannot survive beyond air and water.”, Dr Rajendra told Times of India.
One of the villagers openly said that they refuse to drink the water because the women died of HIV. Dr Glory Alexander, founder-director of Asha foundation, which treats HIV+ patients, said that this is a case of sheer ignorance and reluctance to not learn the truth. According to her when an HIV-positive person dies, the virus dies with it and cannot sustain outside the human body in any other medium like air or water, hence removing the possibility of the infection of spreading through water.
No choice but to Drain the whole Lake
With the villagers reluctant to listen to reason, the authorities had no other option but to drain out the 36-acre lake. A total of 20 siphon tubes with four motors have been deployed to pump out the water. The authorities hope to fill the lake from the water of the Malaprabha canal. The pumps have been sucking out water since the past four days, but still, have almost 60% water left to drain.
Even with more than 50 people are involved in the pumping, it will be another week or more before the lake will be emptied and filled again. However, the taluk administration wants the gram panchayat to get done with the work by December 6 as the Malaprabha Canal will be closed after December 8, giving them time till then to fill the lake. Naveen Hullur, tahsildar of Navalgund hopes for the officials to give them time till December 20 or 22.