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Ostracized HIV Victim of Bihar Commits Suicide

A HIV positive man hailing from a Bihar village, who was socially ostracized, committed suicide by setting himself on fire.

The man, whose name is not known, was the only bread earner and immolated himself two days ago in a village in Jamui district, about 150 km from here. The immediate provocation for the drastic act was reportedly a quack, who said his days were numbered.

"He poured kerosene oil and set himself ablaze. He died of severe burns," a villager said, adding that at the time of the incident his aged parents had gone to a village fair while his wife was at her parental home with her two children.

"The family used to go without food due to poverty and he was treated badly by the villagers," said the victim's father-in-law.

The man had been suffering from high fever, a wracking cough and weakness since his return from Kolkata last year. "He became skinny and could not walk properly," said a villager.

Like millions of migrant workers who leave home in search of better prospects, he too had gone to Kolkata two years ago to earn a livelihood. While he contracted the virus in Kolkata, his wife got it from him, health officials said.

According to official figures, 1,100 people among Bihar's over 83 million population are infected with the virus, but AIDS campaigners claim the figures are underreported.

Unofficial figures put the HIV population of Bihar at 40,000.

India has an estimated 5.7 million (5.2 million in the 15-49 years category) HIV/AIDS affected people. About 39 percent of them are women.


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