For the past year, nine HIV+ orphans living in a privately run home for destitute children in Baruipur, adjoining southern Kolkata, have been enduring great pain due to dental problems.
They have been taken to private practitioners and to the hospital run by the state-government funded dental college — with no success so far. None of the dentists is willing to touch them because they are HIV+. They were born with the virus.The children, aged between six and 11, are among 30 HIV+ orphans living in Ananda Ghar.
A visit to their home revealed that many of the boys were eating with great difficulty. Some were tilting their heads to avoid using the affected teeth. Some were having liquids only to escape the pain of chewing. One of the boys, who opened his mouth to greet the Hindustan Times correspondent, showed a row of diseased and decaying teeth.
“I have gone knocking on the doors of eight dentists in Kolkata, all of whom have ended up shunning the children on one pretext or the other. It is in complete violation of all norms of civilisation,” said Kallol Ghosh, who runs Ananda Ghar, the only home for HIV-affected orphans in Bengal.
In fact, National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) guidelines stipulate that HIV+ patients have all the fundamental rights, like ordinary citizens, including the right to get healthcare.
Ghosh had even pleaded with Dr Dibyendu Majumdar, the principal of the government-run Dr R. Ahmed Dental College too. He promised to help but none came.
Contacted by HT, Majumdar first pleaded ignorance about the entire matter. He later said, “They should have come to me for redressal.”
When it was pointed out that the nine children had been seeking treatment at his institute for months, Majumdar had no reply. He merely said, “You can write whatever you want.”