AIDS Stigma In India Taken To A Horrific Extreme - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-26-2007, 10:07 AM   #1
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AIDS Stigma In India Taken To A Horrific Extreme

How shocking, and I can't believe with all the efforts to reduce stigma and to educate about AIDS that this still goes on. What more can be done?

(Reuters) A sick woman in eastern India was beaten to death by her in-laws because they suspected she had AIDS and feared she would infect the rest of the family, a newspaper said on Monday.

Sabita Behera, a 30-year-old widow from a village in Puri district in Orissa state, was suffering from a fever for several days which her in-laws believed was due to the deadly virus, the Asian Age reported.

There was no test conducted to determine the cause of her illness, the newspaper said.

The woman's husband died three years ago of a liver-related disease which his family believed was also linked to AIDS, the daily said.

Fearing that the rest of the family would contract the disease, her in-laws killed her late on Saturday, the newspaper quoted police officer G.S. Nanda as saying. Two members of the husband's family have been detained.

AIDS activists say a lack of awareness and widespread stigma and discrimination has contributed to paranoia about the virus and also forced thousands of patients to hide their infection and shy away from social life.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 5.7 million Indians are living with HIV/AIDS, the world's largest caseload.
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Old 02-26-2007, 10:09 AM   #2
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Discusting.
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Old 02-26-2007, 10:21 AM   #3
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horrible...
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Old 02-26-2007, 10:42 AM   #4
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That is terrible. But if you read about the history of their culture and the 'untouchables' in their social ladder, you wouldn't be a bit surprised. Maybe someday humanity will rise above such deep rooted, ingrained hatreds.
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Old 02-26-2007, 10:49 AM   #5
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The irony would be if she really had it, and one of the killers contracted it by blood contact during the beating...bastards.
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Old 02-26-2007, 12:59 PM   #6
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Caste/'untouchability' has nothing to do with AIDS, and I don't know why that 'connection' comes up every time AIDS in India gets mentioned in here, as if it somehow explains transmission rates or prediposes Indians to delight in assaulting sick people. Indians of all castes contract HIV, Indians of all castes experience stigma and isolation for it in various ways--including, very rarely, violent attacks like this one. The reasons for that stigma and fear are the same as those in other undeveloped countries--nearly 40% of the population are illiterate, 72% of the population are rural villagers, nearly 80% of the population live on less than $2 a day and national health surveys indicate that only 57% of Indian women (only 46% in rural areas) even know what AIDS is. Basic information about the nature and spread of AIDS, not to mention treatments for it, are beyond the reach of many Indian communities. In an environment like that, it's unsurprising if tragic that the result is often fear and avoidance of people who have the poorly understood but clearly deadly disease.

I don't know much about AIDS in Orissa specifically, though I did read an article a few weeks back about the last-minute canvassing of infected Oriyan villagers by local politicians hoping to glean a few more votes, promising them funding if elected (as the reporter acidly observed--too little, too late). It's 87% rural and, while not India's poorest state, has only recently begun to attract funding from Delhi after years of neglect, resulting in generally poor infrastructure. It has (by Indian standards) no really large cities which might be expected to serve as regional centers for high-tech healthcare, though AIDS rates do tend to be higher in the cities to begin with.

It was in south India where AIDS first appeared and began to spread rapidly, and consequently those states lead the rest of the country in progress with preventive approaches--Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, for example, have cut their transmission rates by one-third in recent years. India's first known AIDS case was in Chennai in 1986, and by the time I was first there in the early 90s it was common to see condom vendors on the major streets, often with literature and pictures to illustrate why protection is essential. Still, that is a city of 4.4 million people and not necessarily representative of what you would find in the countryside, or in other cities. A major mode of transmission throughout the country is men who've left their villages for a time to earn some money in the cities acquiring HIV from prostitutes, then carrying the virus back home to their wives and future children; in a few regions, contaminated needles shared by drug addicts appears to be a greater problem. As in other countries, there are taboos surrounding public acknowledgment that this kind of behavior goes on, and health workers have often found it both more efficient and less fraught to focus their education efforts on prostitutes--though that can be difficult too, since it means dealing with pimps and madams who may not want their workers to have access to anyone who isn't a paying customer and worse, works for the government.

My understanding is that northern India (which includes Orissa) is generally way behind the south in terms of getting the needed public health campaigns off the ground. Lack of money is a serious problem where medication of existing cases is concerned; educational campaigns are within reach of government budgets, but suffer from the general inefficiency, weak infrastructure, language barriers and difficulty securing access to large groups at once that hamper other Indian public service campaigns. Still, if nothing else, the qualified successes the southern states have had so far give reason to hope that far greater urgency will be applied to this effort, and soon. Until that happens, the stigmatization and isolation of infected Indians by relatives, neighbors, schoolmates and coworkers who simply don't understand is likely to continue as well.
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Old 02-26-2007, 01:01 PM   #7
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This is horrible.
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Old 02-26-2007, 01:06 PM   #8
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Re: AIDS Stigma In India Taken To A Horrific Extreme

Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
How shocking, and I can't believe with all the efforts to reduce stigma and to educate about AIDS that this still goes on. What more can be done?
You can't compare the public education about AIDS in Europe and America with the education in India.
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Old 02-26-2007, 03:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by CTU2fan
The irony would be if she really had it, and one of the killers contracted it by blood contact during the beating...bastards.
Good point.
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Old 02-26-2007, 05:33 PM   #10
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Re: Re: AIDS Stigma In India Taken To A Horrific Extreme

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Originally posted by Vincent Vega


You can't compare the public education about AIDS in Europe and America with the education in India.
Well I understand that ( ) and I appreciate all the information yolland posted-that is very valuable. I do wonder if a man would be beaten to death in India for the very same reason, given my very limited knowledge about how some of the treatment of women in India is. I freely admit to my complete ignorance about that country, and I don't mean to stereotype at all. It's just something I wonder.
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Old 02-26-2007, 06:18 PM   #11
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I do remember reading about a man with AIDS who was murdered by some other villagers in Nagaland state a year or so back. But this kind of violent attack on AIDS victims is random and extremely rare; I don't know that it would make much sense to look for those kinds of patterns with such a small handful of cases, really. What's much more common is harassment or even banishment of people--men, women, children, whole families--from their villages, because their neighbors fear they'll catch the disease too. It *probably* is true, given the typical infection scenario I mentioned (prostitute--> husband--> wife) that women are more likely to be left completely helpless in such situations, because the husband--her only means of support--usually dies first. A man with AIDS may find himself run out of his village, but if he's lucky he might have just enough cash to secure transportation to the nearest big city, where he can then attempt to find work (or at least beg) to support himself until he dies. A widow, however, may not have any money of her own--her in-laws may control that, since in a patrilineal village (some regions are matrilineal, but most are not) she may be living in their household--and once their son dies, if not before, they might turn on her because A) they saw what happened to him, now see it happening to her, and fear she'll infect them if she sticks around (plus, other villagers may be threatening to banish the entire family by that point); and/or B) they can't or don't want to support her as she wastes slowly away, and this being the countryside, there's no clinic or shelter to foist her off onto. So a woman would in several ways likely be more vulnerable in a situation like that. Again, these scenarios aren't common--more likely they would keep caring for her anyway, even if it meant their own isolation--but it does happen.
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Old 02-26-2007, 06:22 PM   #12
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That's horrible! A lot of people need to be educated there especially in the villages!
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Old 02-26-2007, 06:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Zootlesque
That's horrible! A lot of people need to be educated there especially in the villages!
I think I agree with you, but I'm not sure. What do you mean by 'education?'
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Old 02-26-2007, 06:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by AEON

I think I agree with you, but I'm not sure. What do you mean by 'education?'
Well... education! Schooling. I won't be surprised if there are still several villages where kids just follow their family business or whatever / get married too young without getting a proper education.
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Old 02-26-2007, 08:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Zootlesque


Well... education! Schooling. I won't be surprised if there are still several villages where kids just follow their family business or whatever / get married too young without getting a proper education.
Got it. I agree. I thought you were referring to another kind.
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