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Friday, 30 November 2007

Live-in maid has AIDS

My cousin tells me that her maid has AIDS and I am shocked. ‘So what do you plan to do?’ I ask her and she says that she is in dilemma because she is undecided. It is the question of humanity versus responsibility towards her family Her maid was not well for some time, so she took her to the doctor, who suggested that she take some rest and then told her in confidence that her maid has AIDS. She consulted several of her friends and most of them (including me) advised her to fire the maid immediately. We are afraid that she might cut herself during cooking and may pass on her virus. It is a different thing when we were living alone, but with a responsibility towards family and children, it is difficult to take any risk. That was my first impression. On a second thought, is it right to fire the maid just because she has the disease that we cannot handle? What if she were a close family member instead? Would we toss her into the streets and stone her? Would we burn everything in the house that she touched? And what happens to her? Wouldn’t she squirm from rejection and shame, with fear crippling her psychologically and leading her to an immature death? Choosing to support the maid after termination of her job may be a better option but it may not work very well for everybody, it is only a matter of choice. When we allow social pressures to make our choice than we do it out of guilt, or sacrifice without realizing the cost to ourselves or to our loved ones, eventually it drains us completely; emotionally and physically. On doing a little research and debate, I realized that I am really misinformed about this disease. First of all, there's a distinction between being HIV positive and having full-blown AIDS. By the time it morphs into AIDS, the person may not be well enough to handle that kind of job and might require evaluation then. The most common ways to contract AIDS is through unprotected sex and drug use (sharing needles). Nowadays people with HIV Positive can live for years with good medication and proper healthcare and that can easily extend to 10-20 years before her daily life is compromised. HIV virus isn't transmitted through normal physical touch, kissing, sharing the same toilet or eating from the same plate. It is transferred through blood, through sexual contact, or by sharing needles and breastfeeding. If we fired all HIV Positive people they would die of starvation rather than the virus! In the world we live in, we have an obligation to be educated on the basic facts of HIV, as it is a fact of life. On this day “World AIDS Day’ December 1st, let us be educated and not be afraid of this disease because ignorance emits fears, and fears are contagious. HIV can be avoided if we are careful. It is important to practice safe sex. It is important to make sure of use of a single, disposable needle in doctor’s clinic. It is important to make sure that we don’t have HIV before donating blood. With proper education about its prevention and medications, we can avoid the panic reactions and discrimination and choose a better options to live the life of dignity and happiness. Sincere thanks to the members of ‘Comfortable in my own shell’ to Pallavi Bhattacharya, Shannon Hill, Nina Choudhari, Madhumita Chakraborty, James Smith, Jack Huber and Kathy B. Thank you for sharing your views.

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