A 15-year-old Indian boy has died after setting himself ablaze on hearing his parents were infected with HIV, police said on Monday.
“The boy said in his dying declaration he was worried about his future,” said C.M. Mudaliyar, a police officer in Ahmedabad, the main city in the western state of Gujarat, where his death occurred last week.
“The fear of getting ostracised by society drove him to take this drastic step,” he told Reuters. The boy had left school and was helping his parents sell vegetables.
In May, UNAIDS said there were an estimated 5.7 million Indians living with the disease at the end of 2005, more than in any other country and ahead of South Africa’s 5.5 million cases.
Indian authorities have dismissed the figure, saying the number of infections stood at an estimated 5.2 million.
There have been reports in the past of HIV/AIDS victims being ostracised by communities and of schools turning away infected children in other parts of the country.
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.