HIV- Road to Burial?

AidsIn what one can say as the most horrendous and sordid acts of mankind, HIV positive victims are being buried alive by their relatives in Papua New Guinea. Their families were said to be taking this extreme action since they could not take care of the victims anymore or feared catching the disease themselves. Due to lack of knowledge, education and literacy, these people are caught up in the utter ignorance revolving around HIV.

Margaret Marabe, a known local activist in PNG, carried out an awareness campaign in the Tari area of the Southern Highlands earlier this year.

“I saw three people with my own eyes. When they got very sick and people could not look after them, they buried them,” she told reporters.

She described, with tears in her eyes, how a child called out “mama, mama” as the soil was being shoveled over his head.

HIV/Aids is mostly spread in the country through heterosexual intercourse, and polygamy, rape and sexual violence are widespread. Innocent women and children become victims of not just the disease, but also social isolation and exploitation. Those caught up in the epidemic are often thought to be the victims of witchcraft. Women are often accused of being witches and are tortured and murdered by the mobs that hold them responsible for the epidemic, according to officials and researchers.

Lack of education, literacy and law and order, only further contributes to the sorry tale that the country depicts. In the absence of voluntary training and counseling centers for the HIV positive and their families, conditions are bound to worsen.

It is no secret that HIV victims all over the world face social stigma and discrimination, which is totally uncalled for and grossly inhumane. People associate HIV to black magic; HIV positive victims are treated like outcastes and are unduly exploited.


HIV-AIDS is fast becoming a global issue as it spans over all the countries in the world and doesn’t differentiate between caste creed, race or religion. The world needs to wake from its deep slumber and work toward creating a mass awareness around this disease. It’s important to realize that a high proportion of HIV victims lie in the uneducated and the illiterate masses where various superstitions and myths arise due to lack of knowledge.

It is thus essential to bury these myriad myths and superstitions rather than burying the victims themselves!

Surbhi Bhatia