**Balasore:** The consequences of stigma and discrimination against AIDS patients are wide-ranging. While many AIDS patients are shunned by their family and friends, or by their community, many others face poor treatment in healthcare and educational settings. One such incident has come to the fore from a nondescript village in Soro.
After Padmini’s (pseudonym) husband was diagnosed with AIDS, family members rushed him to hospitals from Soro Community Health Centre to SCB Hospital in Cuttack. Despite spending lakhs on his treatment, he succumbed. Soon after that AIDs claimed the life of his son too.
Left behind all alone and isolated were Padmini and two daughters. After her husband’s death, Padmini was shunned away from the village. She was also not allowed to perform the last rites of her husband in the village’s cremation ground. Such was the desperation that Padmini had to perform her husband’s last rites in front of their little hut.
Lack of awareness mixed with stigma and discrimination have made life difficult for Padmini. To feed her two young daughters, she takes up the role of a daily wage labourer. Social boycott and isolation are the evil aftermaths of HIV/AIDS. According to a government survey, as many as 1508 people in Soro have been suffering from AIDS between 2003 to 2018.
While doctors have demanded for more awareness programs, Padmini wishes for monetary help from government. After a day’s toil, she comes back to her dilapidated hut and cooks for her daughters. Late in the night, Padmini goes to sleep all alone, thinking about the good times with her husband.