Discrimination of HIV patients
HIV is a viral disease that has indirectly claimed millions of lives over the past 40 years, its sudden and steep increase in terms of people getting affected has caused a lot of rumours about its transmission (due to the lack of research and awareness when HIV broke out massively), also the very fact that HIV still has no cure, it would seem obvious that prevention from all angles would become the best form of defence. Although it may occur to one’s mind that this would prove to be helpful as all possible means by which HIV could be transmitted are covered, this later caused a backfire – Discrimination.
Every Human Being would be afraid of HIV because of its consequences and the very fact that its transmission is quite likely irrespective of age, sex, location...etc. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) has the threatening ability to damage the CD4 cells (or T-cells) and makes more copies of itself, it eventually weakens a person’s immune system and once this occurs the victim is vulnerable to any disease. If not treated properly it can take 10-15 years (or less depending on age and sex) to fully uninstall the abilities of the immune system. There were approximately 36.9 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS in 2017. An average of around 5,000 new infections are recorded per day.
I have researched quite a bit on the internet about the means by which HIV is transmitted, the stats above also prove how easily it can affect people in large numbers and thus non-affected people have every reason to be worried about this horrible disease. There is one very important point to consider though, HIV patients, if they are only carriers of the virus, are normal in every other aspect physically and mentally. Hence one can conclude that nothing should hold them back from pursuing their dreams and they too can be equally successful in an activity or task just as a non positive person. If properly treated HIV positive patients can possibly live well over the average human life expectancy too!
Some facts about HIV that is essential to know
-It’s possible for antiretroviral treatment to reduce the level of HIV in the body to such low levels that blood tests cannot detect it.
- HIV is found in semen, blood, vaginal and anal fluids, and breast milk.
-HIV can’t be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine.
Based on my recent visit to a home for HIV patients, I have noticed that these patients don’t really get a chance to enjoy some of the common privileges that a non affected person would have. In LEDC’s (Less economically developed countries), due to poverty- the availability of proper treatment is scarce and at times expensive for a poor family as the patient needs monthly treatment at least. It was heart wrenching to see the many patients who are now grown up, were once abandoned by their parents at tender ages such as 2 and 3 years where parental care would have been essential to the nurturing of the children’s lives. These younger patients weren’t allowed in proper schools and weren’t allowed to interact and mix with the rest of the population due to the fear of transmission. It is important to note that common acts such as hugging and hand shaking would never cause transmission, unless and until blood from an affected patient enters one who isn’t affected within a short time frame of 10 minutes. As mentioned above sweat urine and saliva never act as means by which the disease is transmitted. The HIV patients I met and those around the world will, in most cases, be aware of the fact that they aren’t guaranteed a healthy life. By discriminating such people and making them feels left out doesn’t help the cause of abolishing this disease! HIV patients should feels open about their disease and seek treatment freely. This is pivotal in limiting the spread of HIV. Some of the affected people, especially the youth will wonder about their place in this play of life, discrimination would only make this matter worse.
What can we do?
- Access to proper education with other non affected students (with certain precautions taken) so that they can learn to interact and contribute to human society safely.
- Create an organisation by which awareness is created about integrating affected patients with their families and society as a whole, also bring to notice that common acts like hugging and handshakes don’t cause transmission.
- Develop homes (like the ones I’ve visited) for affected patients to live in so that they are not unprivileged it many aspects (For instance - Proper food and clothing).
- Change our attitude towards HIV positive patients and contribute to a more integrated world.