By Md. Mamun-Ur-Rashid, TC-M&E, People who Inject Drugs (PWID) Project
Md. Babu (36) , is a street-based HIV positive case under the capital’s Chankharpul Comprehensive Drop-in Center (CDIC). He lives on the pavement in front of Railway Karmachari Hospital. He identified as HIV positive in 2017 and got enrolled in ART. At present, he is also taking OST. Babu used to be a leguna helper, currently unemployed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
He was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for carrying drugs, four years ago. After finishing his sentence instead of going back home, he stayed back. Babu started living on the footpaths of Dhaka Medical College with his peers. He stopped getting drugs injected and started OST. Two years ago to get back to a normal life, in addition to taking several counseling sessions from the CDIC. Life has been hard since the outbreak of COVID-19 affectiing his life and livelihood. He has not worked for more than 40 days. Most days, he can manage food by begging, but the reality is that he has gone through more days starving. It is difficult to take ART on an empty stomach for him. Thus, he has missed his doses, and like many street-based HIV positive people who are missing ARTdose due to starvation.
“We are not getting food daily. It is difficult for us to take high power medicine with an empty stomach. Sometimes we do not take medicine.”
Like Babu, street-based HIV positive people are the most vulnerable group in the city, and are neglected by society and government. Sometimes they are harassed by the community people, as well as the law enforcement agencies. The local government authority does not consider their needs when providing aid. Moreover, they are being stigmatized by the community people for not only being HIV positive patients but also as drug users.