He lost his family and his livelihood

Prakash M. Salodagi  

Girish S. Pattanashetti

HUBLI: Prakash M. Salodagi, a resident of Danunagar here, has lost his family and his means of livelihood, all because an HIV test he underwent showed a `false positive' result.

Just a year ago he was living with his family and driving an autorickshaw to earn a living. Now he is all alone.

When Prakash fell ill about a year ago, he was admitted to a hospital where he had to undergo several tests to find out what was wrong with him. Doctors advised him to also undergo an HIV test.

The results showed that he was HIV positive.

Alarmed by the test results, Prakash got his wife, Sadhana, and their children, Kanchana, 11, and Prasanna, 6, tested. They were all HIV negative.

His life began to change almost immediately after he was diagnosed with HIV. Friends and relatives began to keep away. Hurt by this, Prakash began to take out his anger on his wife and children. Unable to put up with his behaviour, Sadhana took the children and went to live with her parents.

With his condition deteriorating, Prakash, who was an alcoholic and a chain smoker, was sent for psychiatric counselling. With counselling and medical treatment, Prakash made a remarkable recovery, which astonished his doctors.

One of them then began to suspect the veracity of the test result that showed Prakash to be HIV positive. He took Prakash to the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital where tests revealed he was HIV negative. For confirmation, he was tested two more times with the same results. To be absolutely sure, Prakash was again tested twice at the Civil Hospital: he did not have HIV.

Prakash went back to the private hospital where he had tested positive and got himself tested two more times. The results showed he was not infected.

Although Prakash is now a relieved man, he has no means of livelihood. He has not been able to trace his wife and children and has lodged a complaint with the police to help find them.

According to Prakash, he approached the authorities of private hospital and asked them to compensate him for the wrong diagnosis. They have been avoiding talking to him, he alleged.

When contacted, the hospital authorities said there are always chances of an HIV test showing `false positive' or `false negative.' They said that after the positive result of the first test, Prakash was asked to undergo a second test to confirm the result. But he never took another test, they said.

To a question, they said that when Prakash came back with the results of the tests done at other hospitals, they tested him free of cost. There was no mention of providing compensation, they said.

But Prakash says he was not properly informed, and because of the wrong diagnosis he has lost his family. He has submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Dharwad district seeking compensation and has filed a case in the consumer court.