HIV positive people face the worst kind of discrimination possible in society. They are denied jobs, education or any kind of social standing. As a result many are forced to hide their status from people. Akshara S Kumar refused to hide her status from the world. In an NDTV report on everylifecounts.NDTV.com, a website covering various issues on women’s health and children, Akshara wrote about the blatant discrimination she’s faced as an HIV positive woman, especially when it came in the way of her education.
After she secured admission into the WIRAS college for BSc Psychology with the full knowledge of the principal department’s and teachers, she studied in the college hostel as she lived four hours away. Soon after the first semester, in January 2016, she had to return home as she fell ill. Two teachers came to meet her and asked her to leave college because parents had removed their children from the hostel after learning they study with an HIV positive student. Common misconceptions about the virus spreading through bathrooms and in the night forced them to withdraw their wards fearing for their safety.
Akshara told them she just wanted to study. She was told she would either leave the hostel or stay at home. She was then told by the college authorities to shift to a place run by a charitable trust, where she stayed for one day. But Akshara refused to stay in an “orphanage”, she was tired of the constant discrimination she had suffered her entire life. Her brother and her were both denied admission to a primary school because of their medical status, till the media intervened. (Her mother and brother are both HIV positive, her father succumbed to the disease in 2013.)
She just wanted to study. She had done nothing wrong and felt no need to conceal her identity, so she asked the Principal to get her a hostel to stay in or get her a transfer certificate.
Fortunately, it was a happy ending after all. Local administration officials intervened and she was allowed to go back to the hostel.