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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

HIV+ parents dead, 12-year-old lives on with stigma

Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times  Thiruvanathapuram, November 14, 2012
First Published: 23:59 IST(14/11/2012) | Last Updated: 01:49 IST(15/11/2012)

She is a 12-year-old girl, orphaned at two, and has been compelled to change her residence and school at least six times in the past 10 years.

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The reason: Both her parents had died of AIDS even though she is not HIV-infected.

After her parents' death in 1992, she stayed with a relative. Now the relative's family has been ostracised for adopting the girl.

Once the girl's harrowing tale was out, ironically on November 14, Children's Day, the state Human Rights Commission registered a case suo motu and state Women Commission has promised to sponsor her education and other expenses.

"They always used to taunt me by saying AIDS-affected parents' children are HIV-infected. Once I showed some of them the doctor's certificate, but they were never convinced and tried to isolate me," said the girl, who is now staying in a labourer's colony, 15 km from Kannur city, about 450 km northwest of Thiruvananthapuram.

She's studying in class 6 in a nearby school.

Her aunt, a farm labourer, who had adopted the girl, said: "Once some of the neighbours even prevented us from taking water from the nearby well.

There were instances when we were denied household jobs, fearing others would get infected. Some of them treated us like criminals.

Unable to bear the stigma, we shifted our rented house seven times."

Kannur district collector Rattan Kelkar offered all support.

Kelkar said, "We are in touch with the family and will take effective steps to end the discrimination. We will also provide her best care and education."


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