PESHAWAR, Nov 30: Patients living with HIV/Aids have expressed concern over treatment meted out to them by people as well as doctors when they visit hospitals to seek treatment. “We are being looked down upon by our relatives. My husband died of Aids on Dec 3 last year. Now my father-in-law has evicted us from house,” said an 18-year-old HIV/Aids patient at a rally held under the auspices of the Award non-governmental organization to mark the World Aids Day here on Wednesday.
She said that her two-and-half-year-old baby Safia, who had been diagnosed as HIV positive one year ago, was now negative because she had stopped breast-feeding her.
According to her, people in her native district Tank avoided HIV/Aids patients. Even my close relatives had ditched, as nobody was ready to talk to my daughter and me, let alone shake hands with us.
Nighat Kamdar of the Award said that lack of awareness about the dreaded diseases, had put the lives of the patients at razor’s edge.
“Even doctors are reluctant to admit these patients. A HIV-infected women had to deliver baby in corridor of a labour room of the city’s hospital,” she lamented, saying that the doctors and health workers were unwilling to attend to these patients.
Being a sex-related disease, people hated the patients. But what was here sin, asked a woman from Tank. Her husband died of Aids some three years ago.
“I got the disease from my husband. There is no fault on my side,” she said.
The NWFP and Fata have recorded 466 cases, 57 Aids and 409 HIV, but are yet to offered any facility to such patients. An antiretroviral (ARV) centre would become operational within a period of one month.
Award’s chief Maimoona Noor said that the people should support these patients, because they needed “love, not hate”. The children infected with HIV/Aids also suffered a great deal, owing to the apathy of the people towards them.
To keep the disease at bay, she said that the people should insist on usage of new and sterile syringes when they become ill. Furthermore, shaving at the barbers’ shops and tattooing of ear and nose piercing be done with clean instruments.
The main cause of the disease’s spread was also transfusion of unscreened blood, she said, adding that the government was responsible to implement the Safe Blood Transfusion Act in letter and spirit to save the innocent people from falling prey to the disease.
“Time has come that we recognise the threat posed by HIV/Aids. Like Pakistan, India was also insisting that Aids was not their problem. Now, India has millions of HIV/Aids cases,” she said.
About 14 HIV/Aids patients, half of them women took part in the demonstration. They displayed banners inscribed with “Keep your promise: stop Aids”.
A Bannu-based patient on the occasion, said that Islam had always advocated extending helping hand to the patients, but “being Muslims, the people have forgotten the same teachings.”
He also complained that even the educated people didn’t bother to talk to them. The people run away, wherever I go, he added.
A health official said that one doctor and a nurse had received training at India, who would soon be providing counselling and treatment facilities to the patients at the ARV centre at the Hayatabad Medical Complex. Besides, he said that Voluntary Testing Centres (VTCs) had also been established to entertain such patients.
He said that drugs had also been imported from India, which would be given to the patients free of cost at the ARV centre.