HIV knocks you out from the blindside

People are almost always caught unawares when they test positive for HIV. Doctors and counsellors say that families and spouses are increasingly supportive

Published: 30th November 2016 11:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st December 2016 06:32 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: A few years ago, a man turned up at St John’s Medical College Hospital with an infection. The software engineer had just returned from his honeymoon and was in Dr George D’Souza’s consulting room, along with his wife who is also a techie. Dr D’Souza, who heads the Department of Pulmonary Medicine, has been dealing with HIV-positive people for the last few decades and knew that this latest patient too carried the virus. “The test result was positive,” says the doctor.

“The two of them were broken... Fortunately, the girl tested negative and, surprisingly, she was very supportive of her husband. The two of them came to me for treatment and counselling.” Nearly half the people who carry the virus are unware of it, according to the World Health Organisation. Urging more people to use testing kits, WHO stated that 40 per cent, or more than 14 million people across the globe, do not realise they are carrying the virus. On World AIDS Day, City Express made an attempt to understand the situation in Bengaluru.

Doctors and counsellors say that many patients have no inkling of their condition before the diagnosis. Then, there are others who are under treatment without their knowledge. “A few years back a middle-aged woman was referred to me,” says Dr D’Souza. “Her husband died in another hospital and he was carrying the HIV virus, she was totally unware of it and was a carrier herself. Her children tested negative and pleaded with me not to inform her of her test results.

They have been bringing her for treatment regularly. Her elder son is an engineer and all her children take care of the treatment expenses.” When doctors know that a person has tested positive, they refer the patient to the ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) centre. “There they are given counselling and further guidance,” says Dr Prathvi Naik from Bowring & Lady Curzon Hospital. The counsellor at the hospital’s ART centre also says that many of the patients are shocked to learn of the diagnosis. Patients break down, most often, says Dr D’Souza. “They lose hope. It is important to give them and their relatives support and make them feel more positive and optimistic.,” he says. “Doctors focus on that.”


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