This Article is From Dec 22, 2010

HIV stigma: 4-year-old was made to stay with animals

Guwahati: Orphaned and infected by HIV, this four-year-old girl from Guwahati has nowhere to go. She has been abandoned by her family members, who have also threatened to poison her.

After she lost her mother two months ago, members of an NGO found she was being kept in a shed with domestic animals. What's worse - she was even sharing her food platter with them.

The child weighs barely eight kilograms and is suffering from malnutrition. Average weight of a child of her age should be around 14 kilograms. She is currently under supervision at a community care centre, but this is a temporary arrangement. According to National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) guidelines, she can stay here only for fifteen days, of which she has completed ten. After five days, she doesn't know where to go. The state doesn't have private institutions to take care of HIV positive children like her.

"As far as the government is concerned, whether its NACO or UNICEF, there are no shelter or care provisions whatsoever for children infected with HIV, particularly for orphans. There are more HIV orphans in Assam but this is the first case where a family has totally abandoned the child," said Jhanavi Goswami, the President of Indian Network of Positive People (INP+).

 Though there are no estimates of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, India has a significant number of them, probably the largest anywhere in the world. And to imagine there are no provisions for their care is a case of acute discrimination.

Assam Network of Positive People
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