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Society’s new untouchables


Sunday 8 February 2004, by NANDAKUMAR*Prathima , SHARMA*Radha

AHMEDABAD/ VADODARA: In the touching Hollywood blockbuster Philadelphia’, Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his portrayal of an Aids patient who fights a legal battle for compensation after his employers fire him for contracting the deadly virus.

But, in Vadodara, there are no awards coming Mohammed Hussain’s way after he was diagnosed with HIV. His employer, while visiting him to inquire about his health, also brought with him Hussain’s termination letter.

Similar is the case in Ahmedabad, where a letter from a desperate 28-year-old HIV positive patient reached the NGO, Project Support Unit (PSU). "I am waiting for death. My family treats me like an untouchable. They do not let me venture near my house, do not talk to me and are not bothered as to whether I am dead or alive. I want to earn so that I can eat one meal a day but people are not ready to give me work. I have lost two jobs ... I am waiting for death to free me from this hell," it said.

A PSU survey, wherein 799 HIV positive people in Gujarat have been interviewed, reveals that 47 per cent of them are discriminated against. "Discrimination was the highest, surprisingly, in hospitals".

See online :


The Times of India, Sunday, February 08, 2004.

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