Karnataka villagers empty lake after HIV positive woman jumps into it

Grant Boone
December 7, 2018

The woman lived on the banks of the lake spread over 25 acres.

The virus is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse, infected blood and from an infected mother to the baby in her womb or through breastfeeding, but the villagers' alarm at the discovery a week ago drove the demand for the lake to be drained, the official added.

According to locals on November 29, the body of a 36-year-old woman infected with HIV was found floating in the lake. Villagers refused to drink the water and insisted that the gram panchayat and Navalgund taluk administration drain the lake. As of now, villagers trek 2-3km to the Malaprabha canal to fetch water.

Residents of the village of Morab, near Dharwad, are now facing the prospect of having to walk several kilometres per day to get drinking water after they chose to drain all the water from a nearby lake.

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As Morab residents stopped using the water from the lake for drinking purposes and instead took to travelling almost three kilometres for fresh water, local authorities made a decision to empty the lake, Hullur said. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) spreads only through body fluids.

Authorities first told villagers that they would test the water, but no one relented. People in the village knew that she was HIV positive.

According to the New Indian Express, Dr Spoorthi Havaldar, the village doctor, in an attempt to dispel villagers' concerns, said that the lake water could be used following chlorination treatment. "There is no risk of infection spreading from the water", she said. "It was decomposed, bloated... villagers decided not to use the water until fresh water was filled in the lake", panchayat development officer B. Nagaraja Kumar said.

Navalgund tahsildar Naveen Hullur said: "We tried to convince people to drink the lake water but they refused. 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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