Achham: Bisna Jaigadi’s ordeal can be best described as survival of the unfittest, but it remains to be seen for how long she could fight the world’s deadliest disease.
An HIV-infected patient of Kuntiwadali VDC-4, Achham, Jaigadi (35) who came to the District Hospital to purchase antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, complained that she was having a hard time to feed her family ever since her husband died due to HIV.
“HIV killed my husband. Since then, I am having tough time to feed four-member family as I have income source,” Bisna lamented. She has been tilling other’s land to eke out living for her family ever since her husband died some 12 years ago.
“We are tilling other’s land for survival,” Bisna said with tears in her eyes. She lamented that they were having difficulty to arrange two meals a day despite doctors’ recommendation to have ARV with nutritious food.
But the sad part is she and her youngest son both are HIV-infected patients in their village. She lamented that her husband’s life could not be saved even after spending all the money that he earned in India.
With not enough money, both her sons have discontinued studies. “The youngest son goes to school. But, he is mortified in the school for being HIV-infected,” Bisna said.
After the husband’s death, Bisna’s blood checkup had tested positive for HIV. After that her in-laws asked her to disassociate herself from the family. Since then, she along with her sons has been spending their days in a small hut in the village.
Bisna’s case is just a tip of an iceberg. In fact, there are many like her in the district who are having a tough time for two meals a day.
Use of ARV without nutritious food is aggravating their health condition. District AIDS Coordination Committee Chief Mohan Khadka said of the 1,300 HIV patients, who came to them in the past one year, 800 are female of which most of them had lost their husbands.
Mathura Kunwar, another HIV-infected woman, said that they are having a hard time to run their family after husband’s death. “One has to die after our birth,” she told philosophically,” adding, “But, HIV-infected people are starving to death for want of food.”
She said most single women’s husbands contracted HIV while working in India. She urged the government to provide financial support for the HIV patients. Mathura is the first HIV-infected woman to spread awareness in Achham and Doti districts for the past 15 years for the HIV victims.
However Ganga Thapa, another HIV victim, said that awareness programme alone would not suffice to fill the empty stomach of the HIV-infected patients. She demanded the government provide economic assistance to HIV patients.
District Health Office chief Dr Ram Bahadur KC asked the government to pay attention for the livelihood of the HIV patients as the disease was not only a health issue but also social and economic problem.
Most people from the far-west contract HIV when they go to India for employment. According to the District AIDS Coordination Committee, as many as 61 HIV patients have lost their lives due to HIV in the district till date.
Jhanak Dhungana of the District Health Office said that HIV-infected were dying faster for want of nutritious food.