Additional risk

Recently, a person with a HIV positive status was denied treatment for hydrocele at Bir Hospital. Incredibly, when he visited the hospital again for a hydrocele operation — this time prefering to hide his HIV status — he was successfully treated without having to undergo any blood test. This is alarming considering that the patient was one of an estimated 70,000 HIV/AIDS positives in Nepal.

In this connection, a nine-member task force under the Health Ministry submitted a draft of the Health Professional Protection Bill to the government on January 6. The bill bars doctors from refusing treatment to any patient as long as resources to treat him or her are at hand. It remains to be seen if the passing of this bill will lead to reduction in discrimination against the patients infected with potentially harmful diseases. But as of now, it can only be speculated how many people have contracted HIV/AIDS due to the carelessness and discrimination practiced at the healthcare centres. The abovementioned case might only be the tip of the iceberg of the number of patients forced to hide their HIV/AIDS status. The prevalent practice not only places the doctors at an additional risk but also imperils the patients treated with the same instruments. And with such kind of discrimination practiced at one of the most reputed hospitals in the country, the situation in the healthcare institutions in the remote areas cannot be any better. In this light, it might not be a bad idea to test all patients seeking any kind of surgery for HIV/AIDS. And instead of denying the patients in need help from treatment, proper sterilisation and safety methods should be applied to protect both the doctors and the patients.