Hate the Disease, Not the Patient - World Aids Day

For a very long time all those diagnosed with AIDS have been discriminated against by our society. Ostracism, humiliation and mistreatment at the hands of family members, doctors and society is becoming very prevalent. This article discusses that whether we need to practice a differential approach /treatment towards people with HIV or not. 

The first question that will arise in a person’s mind is that why do we need this differential treatment? HIV is quite similar to diseases like cancer, brain tumor, pneumonia and the like. Why don't we mistreat or have a differential approach towards those people? Why only HIV? Will practicing a differential approach solve the issues of people with HIV? The answer is an emphatic 'NO'.

When the misunderstandings regarding this illness will continue to exist - how will people become aware of its true picture?

In the general opinion of the public, AIDS is caused either due to having unsafe sex or having multiple partners. This is the most important reason for the ostracism, humiliation and mistreatment at the hands of family members, doctors and the society as a whole. But in our thinking we intentionally or unintentionally tend to forget or ignore that there could be various other reasons for the cause of this chronic infection.

Consider a person who has just got to know that he is an HIV positive. How shocked would he have been?? Anger, anxiousness, depression, grief, hopelessness - all at once. How feared he would be over how the disease will progress, fear of isolation by family and friends, worries about infecting others and so much more. What different means are we going to adopt to solve his issues? Disgrace him/her and make them feel guilty for what has happened to them? Can we be so cruel and insensitive?

People with aids have great emotional needs and require support to come to terms with the infection. Today we exist in an environment that offers no incentive to disclosure. The disclosure itself will invite discrimination. People with aids need emotional, social and economic support. This is where the family, friends, relatives and doctors have to come to their rescue.

Ask yourselves a simple question? Where do you want to be when you are ill? All of us would want to be surrounded by people we love and are familiar with, so that we receive the flexible and nurturing care.

Imagine the condition of a five year old who has been made aware of his infection. Will he ever be able to seek care in a medical setting or anywhere else away from his family? They may want to talk freely with someone they can trust so that they don' have any misleading information. This behavior might be a little effective in creating an environment that is conducive to reducing the stigma that exist in the minds of people. And for this we need to create awareness and sensitivity in the minds of all those who still have a wide misunderstanding of the infection.

Imagine the condition of infected mothers for whom social acceptability is an added pressure that influences feeding methods. They should feed their babies on the available knowledge and care. But due to stigmatization and the cultural norms to breastfeed in some areas of the world, formula feeding is looked down upon.
It is the society and its people's mentality that needs differential treatment, not the HIV patients.

What issues do HIV people have? I know that there are debilitating effects of this syndrome - that people with this infection might need assistance in doing even simple daily tasks which we people may take for granted. They have to take the antiretroviral drug everyday of their life which will bring home to them the stark reality of HIV. They need love affection, care, concern and support. Nothing else. 

We need to turn over a new leaf and have a positive approach in dealing with these people. They are like us - perfectly healthy and normal human beings. They are only ill - ill for life. They need our help to confront this illness. We need to make them realize that they are not alone.


Signing off,


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