Odisha man diagnosed as HIV positive hangs himself after hospitals deny treatment: Police
An HIV positive 28-year-old man from Keonjhar district in Odisha hanged himself to death after he was allegedly denied treatment by government hospitals in the state, police said.
The body of the man was found hanging from a tree near his village pond early on Tuesday morning.
According to the police, the man was working as a migrant labourer in Surat and then as an ironsmith in Puducherry. He had suffered fractures in his leg and hand in a motorcycle accident in January this year. At the hospital in Puducherry, the doctors got to know about his HIV status during a routine blood test.
“He was supposed to undergo a surgery for his fractured hand in the Puducherry hospital. However, after he was diagnosed as HIV positive , he was referred to the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack,” said the man’s father in his complaint before local police on Tuesday.
However, the doctors in SCB Hospital just bandaged his fractured hand and did not operate saying he was HIV positive, the man's father alleged. He was then discharged without any further treatment.
The man's father then took him to Keonjhar district hospital for antiretroviral therapy (ART), but they referred him to Bhadrak district hospital as it is one of the 4 district hospitals with facilities for ART. "As we did not have treatment facilities for AIDS patients, we had referred him to Bhadrak," said Keonjhar chief district medical officer (CDMO) Dr Swapneswar Gadnayak.
The youth then registered at Bhadrak DHQ hospital on March 9 for HIV treatment. Though the doctors there kept him on medication, no surgery was done on his fractured hand, alleged the victim's father. Bhadrak CDMO Dr MA Rashid said he was unaware of the man being turned away without being operated on his hand and would investigate the matter.
SCB Hospital's superintendent Dr PK Devta said he was unaware of the youth being referred to Keonjhar. "I joined in May this year and have no idea about this incident. Let me inquire into this case," said the SCB superintendent.
HT could not independently verify the name of the hospital in Puducherry where the youth was first diagnosed as HIV positive.
Villagers not wanting to be named said while the youth was distressed over the delay in operating his fractured hand, he also felt humiliated by the treatment meted out to him by fellow villagers. "The villagers used to taunt him and would ask him to sit at a distance. Even the villagers used to wash the place where he sat and often told him to avoid the village pond," said a local resident.
According to official figures, Odisha currently has over 22,000 people living with HIV who are on ART provided free by the state government in 4 of the 30 district headquarter hospitals as well as the three government medical college and hospitals of the state. The government also gives a monthly pension of Rs 300 to all the people living with HIV under the Madhu babu pension yojana. In the last 10 year, more than 7,000 people have died of AIDS in the state.
Public humiliation of people living with HIV in Odisha is not uncommon. In May this year, an eldery HIV positive couple in Jagatsinghpur district had appealed for euthanasia after they were ostracised by villagers. Villagers and family members stopped using the pond, where the victim’s wife used to wash clothes.