Friday, February 19, 2010

A year later, woman told she's not HIV+

Till last January, 23-year-old Batashi and husband Tarak, 26, of Serampore were the quintessential happy couple. They had married for love and were expecting their first child. Then a routine blood test brought their world crashing down. Batashi was inexplicably diagnosed HIV positive at Kolkata's School of Tropical Medicine (STM). A test on Tarak proved negative.

What followed was worse than nightmare for Batashi. Her in-laws ostracized her and her husband accused her of straying. Tarak would have kicked her out had a little compassion for the woman he had once loved not lurked in one corner of his heart.

Batashi had to attend several sessions of counselling while carrying her baby to term. Her son, born last May, was healthy. She had to travel to Kolkata regularly for more tests. Last week, following another round of tests at STM, she was told as suddenly as she was informed the first time that she did not have the virus. On Tuesday, after a repeat test, doctors at STM told her "to go home and take rest" because she wasn't HIV positive after all.

"When we went to collect the report last Wednesday, we were told that my wife did not have HIV. We couldn't believe it at first. Then I saw tears well up in my wife's eyes. I was so happy for her. It took us some time to regain composure," said Tarak, a cable operator.

"I always knew that I couldn't have contracted the virus. But I had reconciled to my fate after the reports. No one can imagine the trauma I've been through. I was ostracized, ridiculed and my marriage was on the rocks. I wasn't even allowed to breastfeed my baby," said Batashi.
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