Social stigma responsible for suicides in HIV patients

Provided by : Bolohealth
Mumbai, December 21: Yet another case of a HIV positive woman committing suicide in Kolkata points to the fact that the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is a major obstacle in the care and treatment of the condition. After being abandonment by her husband, Lakshmi Samanta (25) jumped to death from the terrace of School of Tropical Medicine (STM) around noon, on Saturday, December 19. Lakshmi was brought to STM by her brother and sister-in-law on Friday. Doctors who examined her in the morning found her in a depressed condition; hours later she left her ward and jumped three floors of the building’s terrace.

A series of empirical research on HIV-related stigmatisation conducted by the Social and Development Communication unit of Mudra Institute of Communication Research (MICORE), reiterates that ostracization by society comes in the way of treatment of HIV/AIDS victims, and results in rampant discrimination against them. The research, aimed to provide support systems to HIV/AIDS victims, was conducted based on information collected between September 2008 and March 2009 in different cities and villages of three districts of Gujarat.

The study pointed out that even after going through counselling sessions, it is possible that HIV/AIDS victims can take extreme measures such as suicide, due to the treatment meted out to them.
The study raises doubts about the programs designed and policies formulated by National AIDS Control Policy (NACP) and UN agencies, in the matter of addressing HIV-related stigmatisation. The study reveals — factors such as knowledge and understanding of HIV infection cycle, the attitude towards HIV positive people, availability of support for the HIV-positive person to adapt are responsible for the intensity of the stigma. With an understanding of these above factors, specific programs need to be designed for HIV/AIDS victims so that they can cope with the disease.
India is the third largest nation with HIV AIDS after South Africa and Nigeria, being home to 2.3 million AIDS victims.


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