When asked for some information, a woman staffer at the civil hospital reluctantly points towards a room in the corner where a board reads: “Information related to AIDS and sex-related diseases available here.”
Observing her shyness, one can easily assess up to what extent social stigma is deep-rooted about the deadly disease.
However, hesitation and lack of awareness apart, the number of HIV positive patients in Gurgaon is increasing due to the city’s proximity to the national highway, according to an expert.
Thousands of truck drivers, who are prone to fall prey to the virus mainly due to unprotected sex, come to the city everyday travelling through National highway-8, said Poonam Rathi, counsellor at an integrated counselling and testing centre at the civil hospital here.
“Among the main reasons for the spread of the HIV, the primary one is proximity to NH- 8,” she said, adding that hesitation and ignorance about the disease only hinders the prevention process.
In first four months of this year, 19 cases of HIV positive have been reported in the city which registered 77 cases last year. According to data, men are more affected than women. Out of 77 cases, 48 were male while only 29 were women.
Rathi also explained the difference between those who are HIV positive and AIDS patients.
“There are people who are HIV positive and survive for over 15 years whereas an AIDS patient can never live that long. It's unfortunate that many people are unaware of the difference between the two,” she said.
An HIV positive person becomes an AIDS patient only after symptoms spread in the patient's body which takes around eight to nine years.
“It’s the lifestyle which determines the pace at which the symptoms spread in the body. An underprivileged person who doesn’t eat well and lives in unhygienic conditions is more susceptible as compared to someone who adopts a healthy lifestyle,” Rathi said.