Ignorance hurts HIV patients

Bajura, May 15

Dharma BK, 35, of Rahaf VDC in Achham discovered that she was HIV positive after the death of her husband Man Bahadur BK four years ago.

Her life has not been the same since then.

Ever since this discovery, Dharma, a mother of three, has maintained separate cooking and sleeping arrangements for her and her youngest daughter Nirmala, who is also infected, so that the others do not contract the virus.

They also use separate agricultural tools when they work on their fields. “We are shunned by society, and are hardly ever invited to social functions any more,” Dharma complained.

She added that even when she is invited, she has to carry her own plate to eat from.

Dipak Rawal, an HIV patient from the same village, said that he does not know how HIV is transmitted from one person to another. “Society looks at us with hatred in their eyes, because they are afraid that we will infect them too,” Rawal lamented.

Tika Rawal, a local said that they keep girls and women with HIV in a separate shed when they are menstruating.

HIV patient Mina BK of Barhabise, Bajura, said that locals avoid coming to their homes and they are humiliated and ostracised by society. She complained that even their children are treated with contempt and humiliated in schools.

According to data provided by the far western regional health directorate, Dipayal Office, nine districts in the region are home to 6,365 people living with HIV.

Of the nine districts, Kailali has the most number of HIV patients with 2,948 infected people.