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HIV+ bus driver sacked by MSRTC to be reinstated within a week

Written by Admin |Updated : September 12, 2013 10:39 AM IST

On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court bench of Justice Abhay Oak and Justice Revati Mohite-Dhere directed the MSRTC to reinstate the driver within a week s time. The MSRTC had terminated the services of 47-year-old bus driver Umesh Jadhav (name changed to protect identity) after it was discovered that he was HIV positive. Jadhav is a native of a village in Bhor, and had joined the MSRTC in 1999. Jadhav challenged his dismissal in the high court in 2012. He along with his lawyer Asim Sarode spoke to the media on Thursday about the case.

In India, there is no separate law meant for HIV patients. The MSRTC discriminated against Jadhav. They violated his human rights and also our fundamental rights given in the Constitution. The high court order is an eye opener to all those who discriminate at work place. Next week, we have been asked to argue on compensation over mental torture of Jadhav.
Umesh, a father of two sons, said he was forcefully sent away from workplace without any compensation. His sons, aged 20 years and 17 years work in night shifts and attend college in the day to earn for the family.

In 2008, during a routine check-up, I was found to be HIV positive. I had to frequently take leave for treatment. When I told my manager, he started harassing me and also told others. After that no one ate with me or talked to me. I started getting isolated, which was painful, Jadhav told media persons.

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He said asked for a clerical job but was not given. He said he had undergone check-ups at a state government hospital four times 2009-12 and reports said he was fit to work but still wasn t taken back.

The seniors asked the hospital whether he could drive heavy vehicles, and the hospital replied in the negative. The MSRTC officially terminated his services in May 2012. This order has rekindled a hope. In ten years in service, I never met with an accident for which MSRTC had rewarded me. Overall my record was good. (Together we can end HIV/AIDS)

Top 10 HIV myths busted

There are too many myths attached to HIV. Here are some common myths about the disease:

Myth 1: One can get HIV by being around people who are HIV+.

The disease can only be transmitted through body fluids like blood, semen or breast milk. HIV cannot be spread through saliva, sweat or by touching. The virus finds it hard to survive when it isn t living in bodily fluids.

Myth 2: One can get HIV from mosquitoes.

There s no way you can get HIV from a mosquito. Technically, even if a mosquito which has bit an HIV positive person were to bite you there s no chance of the virus being transmitted because mosquitoes don t inject any blood into your system.

Myth 3: A person who is HIV+ or has AIDS is easy to spot.

No. Symptoms vary from person to person. In most cases, after contracting the virus people experience some flu-like symptoms which then disappear. The condition can lay dormant for years without people realising they have the disease.

Myth 4: HIV will progress to AIDS and the person will die soon

HIV only progresses to AIDS if left untreated. Antiretroviral treatments can stop the various AIDS-like conditions from manifesting for years.

Myth 5: The only people who get HIV are homosexuals, sex workers and intravenous drug users. I don t need to worry.

There s a common misconception that unless one falls in the above group they can t get HIV. It was particularly bolstered because the aforementioned groups are high-risk groups who are more exposed to the virus. The fact remains that anyone can get HIV. For example, a normal person can get it from a faulty blood transfusion procedure and everyone needs to remain vigilant.

Myth 6: Drugs are so powerful that you can stop taking them after some time

Sometimes the medical treatment can be extremely agonising for patients because the drugs are quite strong. But stopping the procedure will again make the person vulnerable to the virus which can then allow opportunistic infections to attack the body. It s vital not to stop the medication procedure.

Myth 7: One can t get HIV from oral sex

While it s true that HIV is harder to transmit through oral sex than anal or vaginal intercourse, there still remains some chance of the virus being transmitted. For example, a person s genitals could have cuts and bruises which could cause the virus to be transmitted.

Myth 8: Only people from the lower socio-economic class are affected by HIV/AIDS.

HIV knows no class. Anyone can fall prey to the condition. Participating in risky sexual behaviour like unprotected sex with strangers, unhygienic use of syringes and needled and transmission from an HIV positive mother to child are all possible scenarios.

Myth 9: HIV and AIDS are only caused through sex.

The viral strains can also spread through unsafe and unhygienic usage of needles. This can occur in hospitals, tattoo parlours and in individuals taking intravenous drugs. Also, breast milk from an HIV infected mother can cause HIV in the new born, if breast fed unknowingly. Very rarely, HIV can also spread through deep kissing if either of the persons are HIV+ and have bleeding gums.

Myth 10: The baby of a HIV+ pregnant mother will also have the infection.

There are less than two per cent chances of the baby being infected with HIV. If the condition of the mother is previously known, ART can prevent the unborn baby from being infected. Whether an HIV mother can or cannot breastfeed is still in a grey research area. One research in South Africa found that babies who were breastfed by their HIV positive mothers showed a lesser likelihood of mother-to-child transmission HIV than the ones who were breastfed and also given additional solids. Others state that HIV positive mothers shouldn t breastfeed. For the record, the WHO endorses breastfeeding among HIV positive women who are undergoing antiretroviral treatment.

With inputs from DNA

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