It is assumed that the state has come a long way in battling stigma associated with HIV-infected patients. Contrary to this assumption, there are hospitals in the state, including government ones, that are reluctant to conduct surgeries and Caesarian sections on HIV patients.
Dr P K Jameela, the director of Health Services, said that such discriminatory practices exist in the state.
“A directive has been passed in this regard and strict action will be taken against those who practise discrimination,” she said.
Universal precautionary measures are to be followed irrespective of whether the patient is HIV-affected or not.
“This does not mean that all doctors discriminate,” she added.
An activist at an NGO involved in rehabilitating HIV patients said that a general fear associated with HIV infection is still wide-spread among people.
Citing an incidence, he said a man in need of an angiogram test and surgery was denied the same by a medical college.
“They kept on postponing his surgery until a doctor from a private hospital whom he had consulted approached us with the issue,” he said.
Similarly, several HIV-infected pregnant women are denied Caesarian section, which is preferred to prevent the child from getting infected with the virus.
“An HIV-infected woman had to travel all the way from Kannur to Kozhikode, as the district hospital referred her to the Kozhikode Medical College which in turn referred her to some other hospitals,” he pointed out.
According to sources, many hospitals are reluctant to conduct surgeries on HIV patients on the pretext that they do not have the necessary instruments or sterilizing equipment for the purpose.
Dr Ajith Kumar K, additional professor, Thrissur Medical College, said that there is a dearth of facilities at government hospitals for conducting surgery.
“A hospital would have only a single equipment for conducting gastroscopy, even as several patients wait for the treatment. A doctor has to to choose between an HIV patient and many other patients. Equipment used on an HIV patient cannot be immediately used on other patients, until it is properly sterilised. The risk of contracting the disease is otherwise high,” he said.