NGO intervenes after Himachal school bars HIV+ woman from cooking

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Shimla, Dec 19: An HIV positive woman employed as a cook in a government school in Himachal's Kangra district was barred from cooking until an NGO persuaded the authorities to take her back.

"For three days I was not allowed to cook food for the students. It was really a humiliation for me. I am still ostracised by my colleagues," the victim told IANS over phone.

"It was only after an NGO took up the issue with the district administration that I was allowed yesterday (Thursday) to continue with my work," she said.

Himachal Pradesh

The widow, who lost her husband to AIDS seven years ago, later discovered that her daughter too is HIV positive.

A team of counsellors of Dharamsala-based NGO Gunjan on Thursday visited the school and convinced the authorities that HIV/AIDS does not get spread by working or living with a HIV positive person.

The 32-year-old woman, who got the job in the school on Dec 1 (World AIDS Day), said she had submitted her medical fitness certificate before getting the job.

However, the additional deputy commissioner of Kangra has entrusted an inquiry into the incident and asked the deputy director (elementary education) to ensure that guidelines for HIV positive people are followed.

But Gunjan director Sandeep Parmar said the public disclosure about the HIV status of a person by the school authorities is a case of human rights violation.

He said the state government should review its impact assessment of the AIDS control programme.

There here are 7,629 HIV/AIDS cases in Himachal Pradesh, Health Minister Kaul Singh informed the state assembly this month.

In a written reply, he said the state government is providing to-and-fro bus fare to the HIV/AIDS patients and one attendant to reach the ART (anti-retroviral therapy) centre.

The minister said the state government is also giving financial aid from Rs.300 to Rs.800 per month to the children living with HIV/AIDS, and to the children who have one of the parents with HIV/AIDS.

The state has a population of 68 lakh.

The state has no case of HIV or AIDS reported from the tribal Lahaul-Spiti district, the largest in area.

IANS

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