Jaipur, Dec 14 (IANS) A family of five has been socially ostracised in a Rajasthan village after the identity of an HIV-infected member was disclosed in a letter sent by the state government, a social activist said.
The family, comprising an HIV-positive husband, his wife and three children, has been displaced from their house. None of the other four is infected.
The family has also been barred from attending social functions and even purchasing grocery items from village shops, the activist said.
The family lives in Rolsabsar village in Sikar district, some 1,570 km from state capital Jaipur.
Vikram Sharma from NGO Sikar Network for People Living With HIV/AIDs told IANS that the husband had applied for benefits under a state government scheme.
"He sent an application to the state's social justice and welfare department. They sent a reply on October 19 by a letter. It was not in an envelope and had been sent on a sticker pasted on the letter itself," said Sharma.
After the letter reached the post office, several people read it as it was open.
"The news of his being HIV-infected spread. Since then, he has been ostracised. Nobody speaks to him as well as his wife, two sons and a daughter. He worked earlier as a labourer. However, people have stopped hiring him. There have been days when the family has gone without any food," said a villager on condition of anonymity.
"The family at times have to sleep on pavements, bus stands and platforms", he said.
The husband had approached officials of the social justice and welfare department to register a complaint but nobody paid heed to his plight, the villager said.
"The identity of an HIV-infected patient cannot be disclosed. We plan to register a police complaint against the officials for negligence," said Sharma.
(Anil Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)