Kamlakar B. Phand, director of the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society, said stringent action will be taken against those guilty.
Mumbai: A 40-year-old commercial sex worker has allegedly been denied follow-up treatment at the civic-run Nair Hospital at Bombay Central, after she admitted that she was afflicted with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and also stated her vocation as “sex worker” while filling up the hospital’s forms.
The incident has taken place at a time when the government is trying to create awareness on HIV/AIDS and the Supreme Court has issued notice against those who discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS.
The patient — whose name is being withheld as per a 1998 Supreme Court order that bars disclosure of HIV+ patients’ identities to protect their fundamental right of privacy and uphold doctor-patient relationships — is diabetic. She requires regular post-surgery dressing for her left foot, where a rodent bit her. The women was allegedly denied treatment and dressing at the hospital’s ‘Dr TSS Unit’ on November 23. She said, “I had immense pain in my foot and went to Nair Hospital’s Dr TSS Unit on November 23 for a regular check-up as I am HIV+ and also for dressing up the wound in my foot caused by a rat bite. I waited a long time for my turn. But the on-duty doctor from the Dr TSS Unit humiliated me, saying that I should not go there as I am HIV+ and a commercial sex worker.” She alleged that the doctor spoke to her rudely and asked her not to come again and bother them. She stays with five others at a brothel located in Kamathipura.
When contacted, Nair Hospital’s dean, Dr Ramesh Bharmal said that he would look into the incident. “I will call medicos attached to the Dr TSS Unit to verify the woman’s complaint,” Dr Bharmal said. On his part, IAS officer Kamlakar B. Phand, director of the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society, said, “I will probe the matter and stringent action will be taken against those guilty of such unfair treatment.”
Vinay Vasta, founder of Social Activities Integration, an NGO that works with CSWs and their children, said, “This isn’t an isolated case. It’s normal for HIV+ patients to be discriminated against at government hospitals. We have to send them to a hospital associated with us every time a surgery is required,” Mr Vasta said.