Karnataka drains lake after discovery of HIV-infected body

Laverne Higgins
December 7, 2018

Authorities in a Karnataka village have acquiesced to demands from residents to drain a lake after the body of a woman infected with HIV was found floating in it on November 29, reports said.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the 150-odd residents of the village had refused to consume the lake water over reports that the woman had recently been tested positive for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) by a private laboratory.

Biradar called the villagers' act as totally unscientific as HIV doesn't spread through water. Without the lake water to sustain them, the Times of India reported that villagers have resorted to travelling two-three kilometres to the Malaprabha Right Bank Canal for their water needs.

According to the district health officials, people are unnecessarily anxious that HIV could spread by drinking the lake waters. Four days later her dead body was recovered by the police from the lake. Villagers refused to drink the water and pressured the and the Navalgund taluk administration to drain the lake.

Authorities first told villagers that they would test the water, but no one relented.

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Pradeep Hanikere, another villager, said the daily hardship was preferable to drinking water from the lake. "When an HIV-positive person dies, the virus also dies".

Another villager pointed out, "We would have consumed the water if it was the body of a normal person, but the woman died of HIV".

District authorities have made a decision to distribute water from Mallaprabha river, a tributary of the Krishna river, among villagers for the time being.

Last year, a boy had drowned in the same lake but no hue and cry was made over use of the water at that time, Ravi Kagadal, former panchayat member, said. They have warned the Malaprabha right canal will be closed after December 8, so we have to fill the water into lake before that. "We may need another 5 days to empty the lake, and it may take another 15 days to fill it back".

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