Live & Let Live -(Life Beyond the Knife: Encounter-6)

A 45 year old man was admitted to my ward with the complaint of multiple swellings on both sides of neck since past 6-7 months.
After examining the patient and enquiring about any history of any previous illness or any medication/addictions or any prior investigations, which were all answered with a frank no, I concluded with two differential diagnosis in mind:
?? TB ( ? HIV)
?? Lymphoma
I ordered a few tests.
The next morning the sister working in the ART centre( they give out medications for HIV) came to see me with the patient’s wife.
She told me that she ( the patient’s wife) was a known case of HIV. She was diagnosed during her pregnancy last year and she had taken medication only for a few months.
After almost an hour of talking with the couple I got to know a few things:

1) The wife did not tell the husband that she was diagnosed with HIV a year ago.
2)The woman was breastfeeding her baby (despite being asked not to) and put the little one at further risk of acquiring HIV.
3) The man was a iv drug user.
4) The man had a report which said he was HIV positive, but the couple decided not to tell anyone at the hospital.

From all of this I could understand, the stigma people still associate with HIV/AIDS despite treatment being available which makes it possible to lead a normal life.
I saw how people do not talk to each other. How people find it more convenient to talk about each other rather than talking to each other.
People hide their illness for the fear of being judged, and find it okay to put the life of others at stake be it their spouse, their baby or their healthcare professional.


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