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Orissa village tells docs to conduct HIV tests

Jun 29, 2008 06:23 PM IST India India

Bolangir: Before breathing his last, a 29-year-old AIDS patient in Bolangir district said, “Yes, I had sexual relationships with many girls in my village for the past few years.” These words from the patient at Sibatala village in Bolangir district forced villagers to press the panic button. Following Ratan's death, people from nearby villages started boycotting Sibatala villagers. In order to bring an end to this, the entire village asked the district administration to set up a blood sample collection camp and everyone including young and old took the HIV test. “Our village sarpanch, women’s self-help group and youth club members in the village all sat together and decided to get the test done. We conducted a rally to first make people aware of the problem. Then all volunteered to go to the camp,” a local resident, Tapaswini said. A total of 205 blood samples were collected, and to the relief of villagers all tests were negative. Meanwhile, the district health department has appreciated the initiative. Additional district medical officer of Bolangir, Dr Purna Chandra Sahu said, “We have no provision to collect blood samples for HIV tests from the village. But this was taken as an exceptional case keeping the demand and the sentiments of the people in view.” Bolangir has become one of the four most HIV prone districts in Orissa. Officially, in the last six years, 78 people tested HIV positive and 23 died of AIDS. Encouraged by the initiative of these villagers, the district administration now plans to hold more such campaigns against AIDS. (With inputs from Sapan Baidhar)