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Last Updated: Monday, 3 July 2006, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
'HIV stigma' drives India suicide
HIV awareness vigil, India
Despite efforts to raise awareness, stigma about HIV persists
A 15-year-old Indian boy whose parents had HIV was driven to suicide by the stigma associated with the virus, police say.

Santosh Baniya died of burn injuries after setting himself on fire in the western city of Ahmedabad last week.

Both his parents were diagnosed with HIV two years ago. They are among more than five million people infected with the virus in India.

Before he died the boy had expressed fears about surviving his parents.

'Mentally tormented'

Investigations suggested Santosh Baniya feared being ostracised once it became public knowledge that both his parents, who were vegetable sellers, were HIV positive, police said.

Protester at Indian HIV rally
More than 5m people in India have HIV
"He was mentally tormented as he could not face the humiliation owing to both his parents being HIV-positive," a police spokesman told the Press Trust of India news agency.

The boy, who had three siblings, had stopped attending school regularly after his parents were diagnosed with HIV, AFP news agency reported.

A United Nations report in May estimated India had overtaken South Africa as the country with most people with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

But Indian authorities dispute the UN figure of 5.7 million sufferers, saying only 5.2 million have the virus.

People with HIV and Aids in India can face discrimination, including being ostracised and denied access to schools and hospitals.


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