Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by a virus Human immune deficiency virus (HIV). It mainly spreads through unprotected sexual contact with persons who is having HIV infection. When virus enters the body, it can reduce the CD4 cells in patient’s body. CD4 cell helps in maintaining the immune system of human body. Once CD 4 cells fall to a critical level patient develops all sort of illnesses (opportunistic diseases) and various cancers which are not usual in normal persons. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can be used to treat the virus and these drugs are capable to stop the growth of HIV virus in body. An HIV infected person with regular ART can improve their health and can live like any other normal human being. In the pre-ART era most of the patients with HIV were having a very bad quality of life and they used to face discrimination from community because of their ugly looks and deadly infections. But now because of good ART treatment regimens most of the patients are able to lead a quality life. But even then, community still has the same old approach to these patients. HIV patients face discrimination from all corners of the community.
This is mainly because of lack of awareness about the HIV infection. HIV never spreads through sharing of rooms, toilets, food, shake hands, mosquito bite etc. So, it is not fair to discriminate HIV patients at home, work places, hospital. HIV must be treated as any chronic illness and insurance coverage must be available for all these patients. To treat the disease, treatment with new age ART is not deemed enough, it starts with the treatment and killing of the stigma which is much harder, as the recipient of that treatment is not the patient but rather a much larger audience which includes the patient’s family, neighbours, friends, colleagues and sadly this group sometimes includes the trained medical staff of hospitals who despite their medical knowledge have been known to treat HIV patients with utmost distaste. Proper counselling is required at hospitals to all persons who is subjected for HIV screening tests, both pre-test and post-test counselling must be given. Test and reports must be fully confidential. It is the duty of the treating doctor or counsellor to explain the patient how to avoid further spread of infection from patient to others. So better understanding about HIV to public is more important in avoiding infection and discrimination.
India, today, has taken a major leap in fighting this stigma against HIV positive persons and hence removing the discrimination paving the path for a better quality of life for HIV patients. Applauded by the UNAIDS, the Lok Sabha has passed the HIV bill which prevents discrimination against people diagnosed to have HIV. This bill which marks a historic moment towards the free treatment of HIV patients in the country, assumes significance as it protects people living with HIV from specific acts of discrimination by the state, or any other person”.