long with the rest of the country, the Assam State AIDS Control Society (ASACS) in association with Indian Network of Positive People observed Zero Discrimination Day on Sunday at the State Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Khanapara in Guwahati.
This year’s theme is–Open up, reach out. Speaking on the occasion, president of Indian Network of Positive People, Jahnabi Goswami said that discrimination especially of those who are infected by HIV/AIDS is very common.
Stating her own example, she said, “There was a time when a dentist himself refused to treat me when I told him that I am an HIV infected. Not only that, the concerned dentist even called up his other dentist colleagues not to treat me.”
She further said that an HIV infected person is discriminated in such a way that there are instances that even after death the infected person’s house was burnt along with the body. Jahnabi further said that even in ART centres, HIV-infected persons are discriminated.
Dr Nabaneet Baruah of GNRC said that such day should be observed by inviting the discriminators and not those who are discriminated. Stating that there is a lack of awareness amongst the medical fraternity on HIV/AIDS, Baruah said that it is really disheartening to hear about patients being turned away from the hospital just because he or she is an HIV positive. Dwelling on the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender (LGBT), he said, “Being a lesbian or a gay is not a crime and in fact it is very much natural and therefore they should be given the legal status.”
Around hundred participants participated in the programme comprising of people belonging of INP+ and other organizations.
Expressing the same view, Dr Amrit Gogoi of GMCH said that efforts must be made to wipe out the menace of stigma and discrimination especially amongst the HIV-infected.
Dr Chiranjeev Bhattacharjya, Epidemiologist, ASACS said that HIV is a manageable disease and thus early detection and taking of ART drugs is very important. Chandan Barua, Project Director, Assam State AIDS Control Society (ASACS) in his address said, “There was a time when TB and Leprosy patients were discriminated but we can hope that stigma and discrimination related to HIV is a passing phase and soon we can see a world sans any kind of discrimination.”