World Aids Day:Of denials, stigma and societal backlash
Srinagar, Nov 30:Nusrat
(name changed) shuddered with fear every time her family talked about her
marriage. She evaded the topic repeatedly till last year when her family got her
Her worst fears came true when she conceived. Nusrat’s
anxiety stems from the fact that she is a HIV positive, which surprisingly, her
husband or immediate family does not know.
“Despite our counseling and best efforts to persuade her
into telling her immediate family members, she hasn’t revealed the secret.
There are 99 percent chances that her husband too has acquired the disease and
the threat equally looms over her baby,” said her doctor, wishing not to be
Similarly, a man in his early thirties, working outside the
valley, deliberately concealed HIV positive status from his dentist, when the
later prescribed him some tests before doing the filling treatment.
“His test reports revealed that he is HIV positive. To
crosscheck the findings, I sent him to Anti Retro Therapy Centre (ARTC) at SMHS
hospital along with our staffer. But he fled away realizing that his disease
will no longer be a secret,” said his dentist.
Even as doctors, health practitioners and NGOs have launched
massive awareness campaign across the globe for prevention of HIV (Human
Immunodeficiency Virus), Kashmir barely moves beyond denial.
On this World AIDS Day, doctors, health practitioners and
NGOs in Kashmir are trying to highlight how this denial puts patients and their
families at a grave physical, financial and emotional risk.
Data of J&K State AIDS Control Society (JKSACS) accessed
by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that a total of 5002 HIV positive patients have
been registered in Jammu and Kashmir since 1991.
“2756 patients are presently receiving treatment in J&K
out of which 2,454 patients are from Jammu and 302 patients from Kashmir. 365
were reported HIV positive in 2018 and 187 were detected with the virus till
September this year,” reveals the data
Around 1061 people have died due to AIDs in Jammu and
Kashmir till date.
An official at JKSACS said that there are many hidden cases
which go unreported as people show reluctance to come forward fearing societal
backlash and stigma attached to the disease.
The official said that awareness plays an important role in
preventing spread of the infection.
However, he admitted
that the awareness is a low key affair in J&K as compared to other regions
in the country.
Director, AIDS Control Society, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Rather
asserted that the drug menace has attained alarming proportion in the union
“While the use of drugs is a major reason for HIV
transmission mainly in the Kashmir valley, female sex workers, truckers and
labourers are the main transmitters in Jammu region. The other major causes for
HIV are blood transfusion, unprotected sex and multi-person usage of needles,”
Dr Mushtaq said this year’s theme on World AIDS day is
“communities make the difference”. “We are planning to involve different
communities/organisations besides inculcate among the general masses the
gravity of the problem and the preventive measures to be taken,” he said