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Fourteen-year-old Kali Bogati was born in Doti’s Kadamadu VDC with HIV, passed down by her infected mother. The virus claimed her within a year of Kali’s birth and within the next three years, her father had succumbed too, leaving her without any loving caregivers. Stigmatised since birth through no fault of her own, Kali was eventually forced to leave her home under duress from her sister-in-law. Kali sought work and accommodation in the district, but to no avail. She eventually found kindness in one Motiram Kami, who put her to work raising pigs.
Kali is just one of 68 HIV-affected children in the district. Even as HIV cases are decreasing worldwide and across the country, infections are rising in Nepal’s Far West. Three years ago, there were 2,801 registered cases of people with HIV in the Far West; now there are 5,904, according to the Department of Health Services. These include 700 children born with HIV. Furthermore, those carrying the virus continue to face discrimination and prejudice from their communities, including outright hostility and a lack of employment opportunities.
This at-risk group will need special focus from the government, especially given Nepal’s pledge to ‘end AIDS’ by 2030 at a UN inter-governmental meeting on HIV on Friday. This roadmap includes upgrading all health posts with qualified personnel to conduct HIV testing and providing anti-retroviral treatment with a special focus on key at-risk populations—intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men, transgender people, female sex workers, and male labour migrants and their families.
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