Sunday, 30 November 2014


On World AIDS Day, there was a report in the Post Courier quoting the Chairman of the National AIDS Council Dr Banare Bun on stigma and discrimination on AIDS Care in this country.

He said that a study among HIV positive people in Chimbu found that 60% had been denied health services, 71% had been physically assaulted, 85% verbally assaulted, harassed or threatened and 67.5% excluded from family gatherings, all because of HIV status.

I have always had respect for Dr Bun but feel the need to question his figures as there seems to be an element of fakery, probably by the persons who gave him the statistics in the first place. 

How many people were interviewed? Were they interviewed at care centres? or at the bar of the local hotel? Who were the interviewers?

Let us look at the AIDS support in the Chimbu. How many AIDS centres in the province? If people were said to be denied treatment, was this permanent?

Are they getting treatment now? Was the supply of antiretroviral drugs depleted at the time?

Of those claiming to be physically assaulted, who was responsible? Was it AIDS clinic workers or other people? Given that treatment is confidential, who would have known? Many thin people have TB. How did assault take place? Where? by whom?

We have long been told the fake story that gay people run the risk of being arrested by police. The insinuation is that they will be reported by health workers.

There were 85% in the Chimbu health centres who were insulted, harassed or threatened. How did that happen? Was this at the hands of health workers or visitors to the centre?

There will be times when health workers will talk cross to HIV sufferers for several reasons. They have delayed their resupply of ARV drugs. They have not taken the drugs as prescribed.

As well, 67.5 % were excluded from family gatherings? This is not quite as simple as that.

There will be those not on ARV in the final stages who raise negative responses in a family gathering. People on ARV may look quite normal.

Those not on ARV may look like skeletons with hair falling out and cause unnecessary response among family members. Some family members will talk of sorcery. It is better for the infected person to avoid family gatherings.

Some HIV infected people will avoid gatherings because they have not told their families of their HIV status. Linda kept her status secret from family for 3 years. She was afraid that her sisters-in-law would spread the news to their families.

So her carer was blamed for her skeleton look, loss of hair, cracking finger nails and dementia with hallucinations of spirit killers come to harm her.

There is another aspect to dementia. That is to complain of mistreatment. Some of the complaints of AIDS sufferers may be the result of delusions. They are hungry so they say they are being starved. The real reason is that they refuse to eat.

I would not accept any advice from a person who had the virus without ARV for more than 5 years. They are probably demented and making any complaint that they can think of.

The people to blame are those caring for them. They are the closest targets as carer, family and health workers. There may be stigma and discrimination among health workers but we need first to look at the mental state of the complainants.

Many AIDS sufferers without ARV are demented and mentally retarded. They are not telling lies but have forgotten what the truth is. 

It is the workers collecting data who are the liars.  They undoubtedly know that the people interviewed are not fully part of reality any more. But that does not matter.

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