With nearly 40 confirmed cases of HIV reported in the past one week in a small village in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao, people there are now living in fear. While many in Bangarmau are still scrambling to get themselves checked and cleared, others are living in an unknown fear.
Even those who did not visit the quack Rajesh Yadav’s clinic are now finding themselves isolated in their families and friendship circles.
This has forced many to leave the village all together, in the fear of facing stigma. A resident of Premganj whose elder sister was engaged to a man from the neighbouring Hardoi district is one of them.
After the news came out the would-be in-laws of his sister have stopped taking their calls.When he tried to contact them through a mediator, they called off the match.
“No one in my family is infected, but moving away seems to be the only option left for us. Otherwise, who will marry my siblings, including four sisters?” he said.
Shivam, a class-IV civic employee, who lives with his mother and tested negative for HIV is also feeling ostracised by relatives. Life is no better at work either. “My colleagues have started ignoring me,” he said
Ratnesh who was tested positive said a grocer refused to sell things to him. “My friend has suggested I shift from here. I know the time has come to leave Premganj,” he said.
However, Unnao chief medical officer S P Chowdhary said there was no need for panic. Health teams will hold check-up camps, where counsellors will be available.
The HIV outbreak was caused by a quack called Rajesh Yadav who used the same syringe to inject patients.
He has been arrested.