BERHAMPUR: The HIV positive persons are irked by the statements of VIPs during their speeches that ‘infection by HIV means sure death'. The irony is that this statement is being uttered by responsible persons in high posts.

On Friday during the inauguration ceremony of the sojourn of the Red Ribbon Express in Berhampur, the MLA from Aska, Debaraj Mohanty and Berhampur Mayor Siba Shankar Dash repeated this statement again and again during their speeches. Mr. Mohanty said earlier cancer meant sure death but now HIV infection or AIDS hinted sure death. Similar statement was repeated by the Berhampur Mayor. The HIV persons present in the audience, some of whom were also volunteers of the Red Ribbon Express were too critical of this kind of ‘irresponsible' statements. President of the Rushikulya Network of Positive People , an organisation of HIV positive persons in Ganjam district, Bhaskar Behera, who was there as a volunteer said such remark from a dais aimed at rural representatives from all over the district only adds to the continuing stigma related to HIV positive persons. “Can we say that people who do not have HIV infection would live forever. Then why should it be proclaimed on stage that HIV infection means sure death”, he asked. According to him such statements depress the illiterate HIV positive persons as general public look down at them as somebody who is on death bed.

Baburam Dakua, the coordinator of the Ganjam Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS said such statements are nothing but mockery of greatest uncertainty and ultimate truth of life that is death.