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99 Yatra
Will we die like our mother?
01 December 2006

 A couple of months ago, two HIV positive children were dismissed from their hostel. This shows our society’s apathy towards people living with HIV/AIDS.

Picture this. A couple of months ago Priyank, nine, and Purshottam, six, were shown the door at Arya Samaj, Kutch when they were found out to be HIV positive. With their mother dead and father mentally unstable, they had nowhere to turn to and with their HIV status made public, their relatives too wanted nothing to do with them. The going has been tough and painful for these young kids who have not committed any crime.

That is why on November 18, the GSNP+ registered protest with the collectors of the 24 zillas of Gujarat. The organisation is also considering the option of taking legal action against the hostel authorities. "Three laws were violated. One, the HIV test cannot be done without the consent of the person concerned. Secondly, the report has to be kept confidential. Every child has a basic right to education and it cannot be taken away from them,"says Daksha Patel, president of the Gujarat State Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (GSNP+).

"The children are psychologically traumatised. They yet don’t know what HIV is but they were told "you have the same disease that your mother died of." Now they also feel that they are going to die very soon,"says Umashankar Pandey, President, Kutch NP (Kutch Network of Positive People).On his part, Vachonidhi Arya, Honorary General Secretary Arya Samaj Gandhidham, Kutch says that they did nothing wrong in showing these kids the door.

"They came to us in June and were ill for most part of the year. When we took them for a blood test, they turned out to be HIV positive. We have 160 children residing with us, how can we take the risk of keeping two HIV positive children in our hostel?" He continues, "We don’t have the facilities to keep HIV positive children. It is a challenge for us; maybe in the future we might be equipped to deal with cases like these. We bid these children goodbye with a heavy heart, it was a tough call to make..."

However, there is a ray of hope for these kids as the school (Brahma Samaj) at which they are studying has agreed to retain them as students. "The school wanted us to give a certificate from the doctor saying that the children wouldn’t pose a risk to their classmates. We have provided the certificate to the school,"says Pandey.

Courtesy - Times of India - India kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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