Do you remember Ananthu and Akshara, the children who were forced out of school after being diagnosed as positive for HIV? Newspapers and magazines came up with the story of these hapless children who were barred from entering school premises.

The school witnessed a heated discussion among the parents, teachers and the educational authorities regarding their re-entry to the school. Though the educational officials asked the school authorities to enroll the children, they could not do so because of the pressure and resistance from the parents of other children.

Such incidents show the necessity for proper awareness on AIDS disease. Kerala society has an odd habit of excommunicating and isolating people who are affected by deadly diseases. There are many examples in the past too (mainly during early 1900s), when the small pox affected people were left alone and allowed to die in isolation.

The public tend to isolate even the psoriasis affected people, though it is not a contagious disease. ``I felt emotionally insecure when my friends started to avoid me from their gatherings once the psoriasis symptoms appeared on my skin. Now with psoriasis ayurvedic treatment, the disease is cured to an extent and I am back in their company,'' says a 30-year-old software professional based in Chennai. But he too is reluctant to reveal his name in public, still afraid of the social stigma against the psoriasis-affected. His case is not a singular one. There are many HIV-infected or psoriasis-affected who have been expelled from the `mainstream' society just because of their diseases and it is high time that the society changed its attitude towards the patients.