Authorities yet to notice plight of HIV-positive people: NGO

How the world classifies them is their shared burden. The fears were writ large on the faces of the 40 children with HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) infection or born to parents with HIV, who recently came to attend a gathering at the Malabar Chamber Hall in the city. ‘Santhwanam,’ a city-based organisation working for the welfare of AIDS patients, was distributing schoolbags, notebooks, and umbrellas to them for the new academic year.

A sense of insecurity was palpable as all of them were wary of being identified in public and the hardships that might entail. The children from Kozhikode, Kannur, and Malappuram districts got the bags but their wish for better clothes and other needs are still at the mercy of others.

A majority of the attendees were girl children either with HIV or born to parents with HIV.

Anitha Kumar, president of Santhwanam, said they could give the children only a few notebooks and a bag, but that would not be sufficient. As the government was yet to notice their plight, voluntary organisations would be their only hope, she said.

Afraid of social ostracism, most children were yet to reveal anything about their illness to their friends or teachers. As a result, they seldom got proper medication or nutritious food.

Santhwanam office-bearers said they had already identified several children, studying in classes ranging from kindergarten to graduation, in the Malabar region with HIV. Mothers battling with AIDS too were found struggling for the education of their children with their limited financial resources.

An HIV-infected middle-aged woman and mother of four from Kozhikode had recently approached the NGO for help as her husband was totally bedridden with the same disease. “The lady was in a totally emaciated state when she approached us for the aid,” said Ms. Anitha. The organisation later mobilised a special fund for providing better treatment to the woman and to support the education of her children.

According to people working in the voluntary rehabilitation sector, the pension scheme introduced by the government for HIV patients was coming to an abrupt end. In the past two years, the government could disburse only three instalments,” said an office-bearer of Palakkad-based Sneha Santhwanam. “We had approached the government bodies for addressing it, but there was no response,” he said.

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