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Ludhiana: customs and ignorance further compound the AIDS crisis

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Custom spells their doom

Ludhiana, January 19

A family of four fell victim to AIDS after a widow followed the custom of

marrying the younger brother of her husband who died of AIDS

Mohit Khanna. Tribune News Service

The custom of marrying a widow to the younger brother of the deceased has landed

a family with AIDS.

For the family of Lalton Kalan village this custom has proved to be a disaster.

Except for a 10-year-old boy and his grandparents, all four family members are

infected with HIV.

The unfortunate couple and their children -- a two-year-old daughter and a

five-year-old son -- feel they are doomed.

Harpreet Kaur (name changed) married a daily wage earner 12 years ago and gave

birth to a boy, who is now 10 years old.

After four years of marriage, her husband died and they later learnt that he had

died of AIDS.

After his death, Harpreet Kaur was married to his younger brother. She had two

children from her second marriage.

They came to know about AIDS only when all four started suffering from a similar

ailment. A doctor suggested them to get a blood test done, which confirmed they

were HIV positive.

The case came to the notice of Jagjit Singh Mann, president of the Punjab

Networking for Positive People. " Initially, I had a tough time convincing the

family as the husband became a drug addict soon after

he came to know that he was HIV+ and the family did not have enough money for

the treatment. Moreover, they were reluctant to admit publicly that they were

suffering from this disease.

" I told them that I could help them in getting free treatment only if they

cooperated, " he said. He convinced them that they could still spend 10 to 15

years of healthy life if they regulated their diet and

took timely medication.

" This is a glaring example of how customs and ignorance can further compound the

AIDS crisis. It shows the inefficiency of the Punjab State AIDS Control Society

as it has failed to provide proper treatment and encouragement to those

affected, " Mann said.


Yashwinder Singh


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