Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Villagers drain Karnataka lake after HIV+ woman's body found in it

Villagers drain Karnataka lake after HIV+ woman's body found in it

Her body, found floating in the lake on November 29, was bloated and half-eaten by fish. Word immediately spread that the water has been contaminated, creating panic among villagers. They took an unanimous decision to stop drinking water from the lake unless the existing water was pumped out and fresh water filled from the Malaprabha dam. It is a key source of drinking water for more than 1,000 people who live in the drought-affected region and earn their livelihoods by farming.

Nagaraj Bidralli, a local official, tried to dissuade residents of the village from the idea, explaining that the virus they were so afraid of can't survive in water.

According to the local official, although the virus is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse, infected blood and from an infected mother to the baby in her womb or through breastfeeding, the villagers' alarm at the discovery a week ago drove the demand for the lake to be drained. "Due to the fear of infection, the villagers don't want to use the water, and are releasing it", he said. The villagers, however, remained unconvinced, leading to the lake water being drained.

"We would have consumed the water if it was the body of a normal person, but the woman died of HIV", another person told Times of India, even though the woman didn't die of HIV but of suicide. Villagers alleged that she was suffering from HIV. There is no other way.

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"The process of pumping out water from a sprawling lake is going on since Sunday", an official said.

Gram panchayat member Laxman Patil said the villagers refused to see reason, so pipes have been sucking water out for the past four days. There is another problem, though. "We may need another 5 days to empty the lake, and it may take another 15 days to fill it back". "We at least need a week to empty and fill the lake".

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