ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Targeting the Taboos

Not enough is being done to address the stigma associated with AIDS and HIV.

For the second time in a lifespan of 20 years, Akshara R, a college student in Kannur, Kerala has had to fight to remain in an educational institution, with the attendant media and public focus on her HIV-positive condition. She joins the long list of children and youth in India who have been socially ostracised and “thrown out” of educational institutions for no fault of theirs. On top of the trauma of having witnessed an AIDS-affected parent dying and a HIV-positive parent struggling to withstand all kinds of hardship or even both parents dying, these children and young adults are also forced to battle to study and live with dignity.

In all these decades since India’s first AIDS case was diagnosed in 1986, has nothing changed in terms of public perception of AIDS and of HIV? The moot point is, how much have the “knowledge” and “information” spread by the awareness campaigns by non-governmental organisations and the government dented prejudice and the stigma for people living with HIV (PLHIV)? There are around 2.1 million PLHIV in India.

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