A 39-year-old man living with HIV has survived a suicide attempt, but is languishing in the burn ward of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) where nurses are refusing to even dress his wound for fear of contracting the dreaded infection, his family members say.
Sunil Kumar (name changed), a resident of Japla in Palamu, tried to committed suicide by setting himself on fire on May 22. He was rushed to RIMS with more than 70 per cent burns. But instead of finding succour, Kumar is faced with discrimination by the hospital staff, so much so that he does not even have a bed.
His family members, who have been tending to him, say his bandages are full of pus and have not been changed for days, underscoring the taboo that HIV/AIDS patients still suffer across India for lack of awareness.
“I may survive, but I am pleading death,” said Kumar, a daily wage worker. With his upper body completely burnt and legs bruised, Kumar is being taken care of by his wife and sister. Nurses won’t change his bandage. My husband won’t live in this condition,” Kumar’s wife Manju Devi (name changed), also an HIV carrier, said. “Even his life saving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) medicines have stopped.”But RIMS director Tulsi Mahto refuted the allegations, saying there was no discrimination against Kumar. “These allegations are absolutely false. Every patient is taken care,” he said. Kumar’s sister Guriya Devi (name changed) is also an HIV carrier. She said they could not avail of ART medicines in Ranchi as they were registered with the Palamu Sadar Hospital’s Integrated Counseling and Testing Centres (ICTC) in Daltonganj.