Government hospital unlearns its lessons, shuns HIV positive baby

May 13th, 2008 - 9:24 am ICT by admin  

By Sujeet Kumar
Raipur, May 13 (IANS) A girl child and HIV positive too. It has been a case of bigotry doubled for the still unnamed two-month-old found abandoned in a Chhattisgarh forest and taken to a government hospital which passed her on to an orphanage on grounds that she could infect other patients. The baby girl, who is now with the Gurukul Ashram here, was found on March 10 in a forested pocket of Balrampur in Surguja district, about 450 km from Raipur. The group of local tribals who rescued her rushed her to the district government hospital in Ambikapur.

The hospital tested her for HIV/AIDS. The test was positive for HIV and the hospital kept the girl till May 2 when it called up the Gurukul Ashram and handed the baby over under a cloak of secrecy.

Giving a lie to the government’s claims of doing all it can to combat discrimination against the disease, IANS has a letter dated May 2 signed by the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Ambikapur, Chandana Tripathi, which states that the girl child was being handed over to the community care centre as “she could affect other patients of the hospital”.

It states that a “few people” had admitted her on March 10 and she was found to be HIV positive during treatment at the hospital.

“If she continues to be in hospital, the other patients too could get infected with the HIV virus from the girl child,” the letter says.

Amar Singh Thakur, chief medical officer of the Ambikapur district hospital, said, “I have full idea about the orphaned baby girl infected with HIV virus admitted, but only the civil surgeon will tell you in detail about the reasons and circumstances on her being handed over to a community care centre.”

Civil surgeon P.K. Srivastava also deflected the issue by blandly stating: “The order letter is drafted by the hospital and formally signed by the SDM. I will re-study the letter.”

But when one door closes, a window opens up elsewhere.

The baby has been welcomed with open arms at the Gurukul Ashram, which houses 60 orphans, including 23 whose parents were killed in Maoist related violence.

Holding the 3.5 kg baby in his arms, founder of ashram Narayan Rao, a staffer with the state government’s higher education department, said the district hospital had “hurriedly” called him to hand over the baby before the media could step in.

“She is the youngest member of my 60-member ashram family and I will bring her up with a total responsibility and affection,” Rao, who will hold a naming ceremony for the baby on May 17, told IANS.

There are seven HIV positive children in the ashram. Chhattisgarh’s nameless baby has become another statistic, one more addition to India’s 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients, including 70,000 children below 14, who live with not only the disease but also the discrimination that goes with it.

(Sujeet Kumar can be contacted at

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