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HIV+? Bury him alive!

An Chennai family convinced they would be infected with HIV by touching a relative who suffered AIDS tried to bury him alive hours before he died.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2003 12:57 IST

Despite multi-million campaigns by state and private agencies, the common perception of AIDS does not change easily.

An Chennai family convinced they would be infected with HIV by touching a relative who suffered AIDS tried to bury him alive hours before he died.

The hospital advised the family to take him home, but relatives instead drove the dying man to a cemetery where a hole had already been dug for him.

Doctors told the family of Jaffer Dhari Sadiq that the 40-year-old van driver was about to die from AIDS complications after a month at a hospital in Karur, 385 kilometers southwest ofChennai.



The hospital advised the family to take him home, but relatives instead drove the dying man to a cemetery where a hole had already been dug for him, said T. Karunanidhi, the doctor in charge of AIDS at the Karur hospital.

"It was a big effort trying to convince the relatives they would not contact AIDS from merely touching Jaffer, but they remained scared and aloof," Karunanidhi said.

The cemetery keeper, however, noticed Sadiq was still alive and alerted nearby residents, who scolded the relatives and forced them to return to the hospital where the AIDS patient died late Tuesday.

Karunanidhi said he rebuked the family for their superstition and arranged for an ambulance to take Sadiq's dead body back to the cemetery, where it was buried in the same hole.

Anti-AIDS activists say ignorance remains a major impediment to fighting the disease in India, which has 4.58 million HIV-positive people -- more than any country except South Africa, which has around five million.

Open discussion about sexuality is taboo for most Indians. The Hindu nationalist-led federal government has infuriated activists by calling for anti-AIDS strategies focused on abstinence rather than condom use.

First Published: Nov 30, 2003 18:52 IST