Govt dept gives away identity of HIV+ man

Now, village treats his family like outcast

The callousness of the state social welfare department has resulted in the ostracisation of a family of five in a Rajasthan village.

The identity of an HIV-infected family member was disclosed in a letter sent by the state government.

Now the family, comprising an HIV-positive husband, his wife and three children, has been displaced from their house.

Vikram Sharma of the Network for People Living With HIV/AIDs said the problem started with the HIV-affected husband applying for benefits under a state government scheme.
“He sent an application to the state’s social justice and welfare department.

They sent a reply on October 19. It was not in an envelope and had been sent on a sticker pasted on the letter itself,” said Sharma. He said this mode of communication, which gives away the privacy of an HIV-positive person, is against rules.

After the letter reached the post office, several people read it as it was open.
“The news of him being HIV-infected spread and since then, he has been ostracised,” said Sharma.

“Nobody speaks to him and his wife, two sons and a daughter. He worked as a labourer. But now people have stopped hiring him. There have been days when the family has gone without any food,” he said.

The family has also been barred from attending social functions, and even buying grocery from village shops. They live in Rolsabsar village in Sikar, but have no home now.
“The identity of an HIV-infected patient cannot be disclosed. We plan to register a police complaint against officers responsible for negligence,” said Sharma.

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