Despite crores being spent on HIV/AIDS sensitisation campaigns, it still remains an anathema — even for doctors and nurses.
Why else would an HIV positive woman in advanced pregnancy be forced to go home when she came to the hospital to deliver?
What's worse, the woman, (name withheld) from Dahapada village under Remuna block, was left unattended for 2 hours after she delivered in an ambulance on way to the hospital.
And while doctors and the nursing staff of the Balasore district hospital, about 200 km east of Bhubaneswar, allegedly stayed away, a sweeper finally took pity on her and cut the umbilical cord.
"No hospital staff touched me. They said, I have AIDS," the woman said.
The baby, a girl, was cleansed by a block level woman social worker, who rushed to the hospital after hearing about the incident. Later, the woman and the baby were admitted to the hospital following intervention from an official of Prevention of Parents to Child Transmission (PPTCT) and some activists.
Although an HIV positive woman can transmit the disease to her baby through breast-feeding, it can be prevented by administering anti-retroviral drugs.
Talking to HT, Balasore chief district medical officer Benu Madhav Satpathy, however, refuted the charges of neglect on part of the hospital staff.
"She delivered the baby on Sunday in the ambulance. When she and her baby reached the labour room another delivery was going on, as a result there was some delay in treating her."
Satpathy, who has been asked by the state government to submit a report, added the mother and child were in good health and had been discharged on Tuesday.