HIV patients contest K'taka elections

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Gulbarga, May 14: The 43-year-old Jagannath is infected with the deadly HIV, but this hat not deterred him from contesting in the Karnataka Assembly elections.

He along with a group of HIV positive men and women came to the returning office and silently filed his nomination papers for contesting in the election from Gulbarga constituency.

They known well that they will lose their deposits. But they are not contesting the election just for fun. There is a reason behind his contest and it is painful.

Their main objective is that to disclose themself as they are aids/HIV to allay the fears of the newly detected HIV patients.

"Divya Jeevan" is a voluntary organisation, which is being run by those suffering from HIV/AIDS and Jagannath is one of the members of the group deeply involved in creating awareness on HIV/AIDS.

Another HIV patient Mahanth is also contesting in the election from Shahapur assembly constituency in the district.

Speaking to UNI Mr Jagannath said, "I am contesting the election only to meet people and spread the awareness by explaining our plight." He said that he had met many people during his campaign and explained the measures to be taken to prevent infection of HIV/AIDS.

Mr Jagannath said that according to an estimate there were 26,000 HIV patients in and around Gulbarga. "Unfortunately no political party is showing interest to provide help to the HIV/AIDS patients. That is why we want highlight our plight by contesting elections. At least in the context, the increasing menace of HIV/AIDS will be discussed," he laments.

Interestingly, the AIDS/HIV patients, possibly for first time in the country, have brought out their own election manifesto which promised HIV/AIDS patients of pension, Ashraya houses, free medical facility, better treatment in corporate hospitals and rehabilitation.

"A few openly disclose that they are HIV positive, while many don't dare doing to. I will say openly that i am a HIV positive and ask the people to vote for me. I Will win this election," Mr Jagannath says confidently.

In Shahapur the HIV patient Mahant has launched his campaign giving importance explaining the dangers of the killer disease and about the preventive measures to be adopted. He along with some fellow HIVs meet people not only ask for votes but also to explain about anti-retroviral treatment, if one is infected with HIV.

Significantly, Gulbarga district has the high prevalence HIV/AIDS in the state. The government has opened an anti-retroviral treatment centre and washed its hands, despite the number of HIV/AIDS patients are increasing alarmingly, nothing is done in large scale in the backward district, Mr Jagannath says ruefully.


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