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HIV positive patient tries to con people at hospital

By R. Sujatha

CHENNAI, MARCH 29. A resident of Chirala, Andhra Pradesh, who tried to con money from HIV patients at a city clinic was caught by its staff on Tuesday. The man, Ch. Srinivas, aged about 30, is also afflicted with HIV and has passed on the condition to his wife.

Srinivas, who runs a cable network in Chirala, said he earned Rs. 4,000 a month and came to the city hospital in 2003 for treatment along with his wife. She tested positive when she was pregnant. Doctors in Chirala advised her to go to Chennai for treatment.

In Chennai, the doctors urged her to bring her husband for a confirmatory test. Since then, Srinivas has been taking treatment periodically. This morning, Srinivas arrived as soon as the clinic opened and chatted with visitors.

He told them that treatment for HIV/AIDS was available in Hyderabad. He gave the address of the hospital that offered treatment as: Venkateswara Gudi Temple, Dilsukh Nagar, Hyderabad.

Suspicious patients informed the administrative officer. The officer said the patients blamed him for telling them that there was no cure for HIV positive persons, when the man from Chirala said there was one, though it was expensive.

"They wanted to know whether they could believe him... I know Srinivas and asked him. He told me that he had come for treatment and that he had not eaten anything. But he had several thousand rupees in his pocket," said the officer.

Srinivas was given breakfast and questioned about the new cure. He said, "I read in a monthly magazine called Wonder World about it. The treatment lasts three months and a person must take five tablets a day, and remain on a diet of curd rice and milk. The treatment costs Rs. 12,000 a month."

Senior doctors who had by then arrived grilled him. Srinivas, threatened with police action, begged for forgiveness. He grinned when the staff asked if he would dare to go to the AIDS treatment centre at Tambaram. "I would get beaten up there," he said. Srinivas says he did not try the Ayurveda medicine because he had no money.

Doctors were upset that a person with HIV should try to con others like him. "Had he been a negative patient it would have been different," a senior doctor said.

The clinic officials however decided not to file a complaint with the police.

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