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Hospital snub for HIV+ man

A 35-year-old man in Jamshedpur has been refused surgery for an injured collarbone at state-run MGM Medical College and Hospital allegedly because he is HIV positive, prompting him to mull a petition to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The private tutor, who had met with a bike accident in Sakchi three months ago, said his external injuries healed quickly but an acute pain on the shoulders did not subside. He consulted an orthopaedic surgeon at MGM a fortnight ago and was advised an X-ray. The report showed he had a wounded collarbone that called for immediate intervention. However, the hospital asked him to get the same done elsewhere.

While the father of two claims the doctor changed his mind after learning that his patient was HIV positive, which means he carries the human immuno-deficiency virus, the agent of the currently incurable AIDS, the hospital authorities insist that there was no such discrimination made. The surgeon in question said he was helpless because MGM’s surgery block was “grappling with water crisis and the hospital also lacked infrastructure to treat a patient like the complainant (read HIV positive)”.

“After seeing my X-ray report, the doctor said I must be operated on and asked me to get admitted as early as possible. But, when during the course of our conversation, I mentioned I was HIV positive, he changed his mind. I was told the surgery could not be done at MGM because it was ill equipped to handle my case,” said the man who lives in a rented house in Baridih.

Crestfallen, the patient met hospital superintendent A.N. Mishra seeking redress, but the latter allegedly contradicted the surgeon and suggested conservative treatment like using pressure bandage instead of an operation.

“I soon realised that the hospital authorities were avoiding my case because I am HIV positive. I don’t know what to do; the pain is getting worse. I can neither sit nor sleep,” he said, adding that he had recently consulted Jharkhand AIDS Control Society and would move the NHRC for relief in a day or two.

The doctor confirmed that the tutor needed surgery, but reiterated infrastructure issues at the hospital. “Most OTs are getting cancelled or postponed because of water crisis. The patient can go to a hospital with better infrastructure,” he told The Telegraph

Another senior doctor at MGM said extra precautions were needed to operate on an HIV victim. “Protective gear is necessary for both surgeon and support staff, which this hospital lacks,” he claimed.

Hospital superintendent Mishra admitted having advised conservative treatment, but refused to comment on the alleged discrimination.