AIDS patients need our empathy, not judgement

Dec 08, 2018, 05:00 IST | mid-day correspondent

Science has taken great leaps when it comes to HIV and AIDS treatment. Now our attitude and outlook must keep pace with how medicine has progressed

AIDS patients need our empathy, not judgement

The city's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community painted walls outside Sion Hospital and the Mumbai District Aids Control Society at Wadala, recently, as reported in this paper. This queer art project had, at its heart, the objective of spreading awareness about living a life of dignity sans discrimination for HIV-affected people.

The initiative was a continuation of World Aids Week, a seven day programme by the queer community taking off from World AIDS Day which fell on December 1. The painting project was part of a slew of events that focused on the disease, which still has to shake off its shroud of silence and shame.While the AIDS cause is associated with a lot of activism, and is supported by global celebrities, for those living with the disease, life is far from glamorous.

Interactions with the community at the wall painting art project showed that we have some way to go when it comes to matching the more advanced nations in our treatment of HIV-positive and AIDS patients. Abroad, they not only have better access to healthcare, but also find acceptance in society more easily. This is, in large part, due to more awareness among the public. We have to educate ourselves about the disease from informed, authentic sources. HIV-positive persons say they suffer most from a forced silence. They carry their sickness and all the guilt, stigma and shame associated with it, alone, wilting under its weight.

The artwork at Wadala had the same message — about breaking this stigma and silence, and support the community to beat the fear and take the first step, which is to get tested and to know one's status. We need to ease the patients' burden. If we show understanding and less judgment, the ailing may confide in us. Remove the shame associated with being HIV-positive, the fear that comes from ignorance and misinformation. If we change our way of thinking, and our prejudice, we will see transformation. Science has taken great leaps when it comes to HIV and AIDS treatment. Now our attitude and outlook must keep pace with how medicine has progressed.

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