Karnataka: Lake water pumped out after discovery of HIV infected woman’s body

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Residents of the village of Morab, near Dharwad, are now facing the prospect of having to walk several kilometres per day to get drinking water after they made a decision to drain all the water from a nearby lake.

When asked about the incident, Navalgund tahsildar Naveen Hullur said that the administration was left with no choice as over a thousand people came to the lake with water tankers. As of now, villagers trek 2-3km to the Malaprabha canal to fetch water. Part of the body, locals said, had been eaten by fish, which increased fears that it would spread the infection.

"We tried to tell the people that HIV spreads only in four ways - through unprotected sex, unsafe blood transfusion, unsterilised syringes and from mother to child - and that the virus needs blood to survive, but the people were not convinced", the official said.

Dr Glory Alexander, founder-director of Asha Foundation, which treats HIV+ patients, said it was a case of fear rather than stigma. "It is sheer ignorance stemming from lack of awareness". The reports claimed that she had been suffering from HIV and that possibly could be the reason why she committed suicide. It can not survive in the body after the infected person dies. They have decided, and they refill it with water and only then use it for consumption. The villagers refused to drink water from the lake, believing that it was contaminated with HIV. Villagers refused to drink the water and insisted that the gram panchayat and Navalgund taluk administration drain the lake.

Panchyat Development Officer Nagaraj Bidralli said that the local body's members failed to convince the villagers against the idea of draining the lake, The New Indian Express reported.

Authorities attempted to convince them that HIV can not be transmitted by water and that there's no risk of getting the virus by drinking the water. Hence, it was chose to pump out the waters with the help of 20 siphon tubes with four motors.

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