Kolkata AIDS care centre project shelved after protests


Kolkata : A bid to set up a community care centre for HIV-positive people here has been temporarily shelved following objections from nearby residents who wrongly believe that the virus might spread to them also, officials said Wednesday.

Support TwoCircles

The West Bengal State AIDS Prevention and Control Society planned to set up the 10-bed community care centre for the HIV-affected at Amherst Street area in north Kolkata. The officials rented a house in October and started furnishing the rooms for the centre when residents began resisting, saying that AIDS is contagious.

They contended that if the victims are kept in the locality, the residents living nearby too would get infected.

The project was temporarily withdrawn Wednesday following a petition submitted by residents to the local councillor Salil Chakraborty Nov 30.

“The residents are not willing to have this community centre here. They are scared that they too might get infected with HIV/AIDS. I tried to convince them and have failed. So, based on their petition, I have requested the health authorities to withdraw the project for the time being,” Chakraborty told IANS.

Residents’ views revealed that they still lacked basic awareness about HIV and its spread.

“This is a residential area. It is not right to carry out AIDS and HIV treatment here. The virus may spread to neighbouring houses. As it is, these are contagious diseases,” said Rudranath Bag, who lives in the area.

It was decided that patients who come for Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) at the School of Tropical Medicine – a leading facility here for HIV/AIDS treatment – would be kept under observation for a few days at the community centre and also be counselled there.

Project developer Sushanta Sen said: “Doctors of the School of Tropical Medicine and I have met the residents a couple of times and tried to convince them. But they are so superstitious that all our attempts have failed. For the time being, we are stopping our project work. But we hope to restart soon.”

According to latest reports of the West Bengal State AIDS Prevention and Control Society, about 9,000 HIV/AIDS cases have been detected across the state till September 2008.