AIDS pension blues: Widows, disabled, single women excluded from list

AIDS pension blues: Widows, disabled, single women excluded from list

Over 8,000 patients denied pension under the pretext of rules.

Government is giving 2,016 monthly to each HIV affected person.

More than 33,000 persons are presently getting the pension.

Hyderabad: The Telangana government had brought AIDS patients under the purview of Aasara, the Social Security Pension scheme, but not all affected were benefitting from it. Widows, physically challenged, beedi workers, single women etc. who were found to have HIV virus and taking the ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy) have not been included in the beneficiaries list simply for the reason that they were already covered under their respective categories.

According to official data, 33,000 persons from various districts were availing the AIDS pension every month, out of which over 9,000 persons were in Hyderabad alone.

The beneficiaries number was also below the halfway mark as official figures show that over 82,800 persons have registered themselves and are taking ART and medicines from the government every month after being found to be positive with the dreaded virus.

It is learnt that nearly 8,000 AIDS affected patients which include over 4,000 widows and nearly 300 each of beedi workers, disabled pensioners, single woman pensioners and old-aged people were excluded from the AIDS pension beneficiaries list. This is very unfortunate as unlike other pensioners, these people have to spend extra for travelling to district headquarters and State hospitals to get ART treatment and medicines every month besides taking nutritious food to increase their longevity by few extra years. And, the amount Rs 2,016 (pension amount given to AIDS patients) would be of some help to them, especially the ones who are financially poor.

According to Kishore, who runs a care and support centre for AIDS patients in Khammam district, pension for AIDS-affected widows, disabled, beedi workers etc. was all the more important as most of them don't have any means of livelihood, their resistance power will be low and they would be prone to frequent infections.

Also, some of them have to travel as far as 100 km distance every month to visit the ART centre to get AIDS medication and therapy. AIDS pension could be of big use for them and the government should relax rules to give AIDS pension to all affected people," he said. Sources stated that higher-ups in the Health department were briefed about this issue earlier.

Meanwhile, some of the HIV affected patients who were working in private jobs and have monthly income have shied away from applying Aasara pensions as they have concerns that it might expose their identity thus affecting their professional lives. This is also one of the reasons why AIDS pension beneficiaries number is less than the total identified AIDS patients in the State.

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