I came across an article in the Hindustan Times yesterday that made realise something I had chosen to ignore. The bitter truth of the existence of uneducated, backward masses in our country and their sheer ignorance to listen to reason.
Asha Devi waited beside the body of her husband for two days but the villagers of Khaira in Bihar’s Dharbhanga district shunned her house. Neighbours murmured that if they stepped inside the house, they would contract a killer virus. The reason: Asha’s husband Surendra Kumar had been HIV positive.
The widow had to drag her husband’s body all on her own to the backyard of her house and cremate it with twigs and leaves she had collected.
This is the reality of a state where NGOs and government agencies spend hundreds of crores every year to spread AIDS awareness.The government’s slogan of ‘Fear HIV, not the HIV patient’ does not seem to have reached this tiny hamlet.
A few years ago, another family was boycotted at Hathuri village in Muzaffarpur district after four members died of AIDS. The villagers treated the family as a pariah until the government intervened.
All this goes on to show awareness alone won’t help. Attitudes must change too.