As a lot of you would know, today is World AIDS day. It is unfortunate how we have to create a day to spread awareness about a disease.
Out of all diseases, AIDS is the most unfortunate because of the stigma associated with it. A COVID patient, at least, recieves government aid, society’s sympathy and family’s emotional support but an AIDS patient, at least in India, is thrown out of the house for being infidile and bringing shame to family–as if those not infected have not been doing exactly the same things. AIDS patients are simply unfortunate to have received the disease that someone else had either hidden or carried unknowingly.
Shabana Azmi was India’s first actress to openly support the cause and come on television and say in a public service ad, “Chhoone se AIDS nahi failta.” (Touching doesnot spread AIDS.) That someone had to say that out loud on national television in an ad that was repeated everyday speaks volumes about how AIDS patients were treated then. Unfortunately, they are still treated the same way.
Virginity before marriage is the first demand for social acceptance in India. AIDS shatters that mirage. If an average Indian meets an AIDS patient, they jump to conclusions regarding their character without accepting that it could have been a mistake, true love, or simply blood transfusion or infected needle.
When Phir Milenge, a movie on AIDS with big starcast, was relesed in India in 2004, it only recieved critical acclaim, not box office success. People were afraid to be seen outside the movie hall that showed such a movie.
Even with laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a person with AIDS, it is sad how AIDS patients are still treated the same way. It doesn’t just kill them, it kills their wish to live.
Let’s remember, we are all humans who err. Let’s be humane…