29 November 2011

Social Stigma- Can we afford one more?

Every once in a long while there comes a disease that changes the fate of millions and test the rest of mankind. The last such disease was leprosy that infected the human civilization for over 4000 years. This disease divided human race into two, human and leper. The leprosy stigma was so strong that lepers were forced segregated and quarantined, deprived of basic rights and warmth. In medieval times sufferers were worn leper bells, like cowbells, to signal their presence. Even in recent times, after the disease became treatable, lepers suffered equally strong stigma- termination from jobs, ban from public places, deprivation of healthcare and worse of all their families giving up on them.
Leper Bell! (Picture:: Wikipedia)
Bhutan has its own history of leprosy; stigma drove sufferers into isolation into the remote caves to wait for their ends. One such recorded history is that of Gelong Ma Pema's. Even today, after all the education, medical breakthrough, and understanding nobody wants to be associated with a leper; the stigma finds it hard to leave the society that has it rooted deep within its .
The bacterial disease is finally gone, or as good as gone but a virus has come and it's given a very technical name- HIV AIDS. Like I said, every once in a long while comes a disease that changes the fate of millions and test the rest of mankind- while leprosy surely changed the fate of millions but the rest of mankind failed the test. Now the time has come for another test, AIDS has changed the fate of millions but will the rest of us repeat the same mistake of depriving the sufferers of our love and compassion? Are we going to force segregate and isolate them in social caves? Are we going to wear them virtual cowbells?
Let us realize that the disease hasn't come for nothing, it's god's way of testing mankind of our virtues. If we are going to repeat what we have done to lepers with AIDS patients God may never forgive us. It's not about who sees the death first, many people die each day while infected people are living for years, but it's about the emotional support they need each moment of their lives fighting the disease and we owe them that much. Let's not wait for 4000 more years to realize that they are our family.

In two days we are going to see four HIV positives Bhutanese on National TV to share their experiences. We are all waiting with mixed feelings but one thing we must remember is they are sick of hiding and fighting alone. They are counting on us to help them fight the disease stronger and freely. 


  1. absolutely ...every once in a while....such diseases come and it shudders the man kind and their lifestyles.......and i think, its time people act than just being vocal in virtual world....it is commanding for these four postive people to come out open and speak to people about it...i hope our people embrace their guts and treat them like everyone......

  2. Sir, rightly pointed out. lets commend for coming public and this will have far reaching impact. thus, all of us should treat them inclusively.

  3. it is critical to reduce stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDs through laws and regulations,We have to have an environment where a person can be free to be tested and feel that they won't be discriminated against, shunned in their community, and fired from their job, or else no one will feel safe...

    lets see what happens!!

  4. Why do we become so inhumane amongst human? We all are well aware of how his deadly viral disease spread from one person to another. it is not the air borne disease that gets transmitted from one person to another through air. still then, we think that it is so. lets be more humane, not orthodox being....lets support them as an applause to the Ministry of health and other agencies who took tremendous amount of their time in educating us abut the disease.

  5. Really touched with all this happenings. why do we not care them when they are in need of us. why should we have a family, friends and relatives if they are the one who turns off in the time we need them the most. emotional support here is so essential. we know it is for sure they are the victim of this virus, but why should they be again a victim of of human beings too. lets support them and lets make them emotionally happy which is very much important.

  6. Aaaah! Just hoping and praying for the four courageous Hiv/Aids victims a very Best Wishes for the interview. Hope everything goes well without any interruption. Everyone is with you!!! God Bless us all!


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