The HIV positive woman who was found floating in a lake in Moraba village in Karnataka's Dharwad district may have killed herself, Navalgund police told HuffPost India.
Multiple news reports had said that the lake was being cleaned by district authorities because villagers were scared that they would also contract HIV despite assurances from government officials.
Despite multiple awareness campaigns and educational initiatives over the years, HIV patients in India still live in fear of ostracisation and stigma, and many are unable to access proper treatment and counselling. As this case shows, sometimes this can extend after a person's death as well.
Navalgund CPI Diwakar told HuffPost India on the phone, "The woman was from the village. She had a fever in October for which she visited the hospital and reports after the tests showed that she was HIV positive."
According to the police, this sent her into depression.
"She would often express her sadness to the husband about her illness," said Diwakar.
Only her family members knew about her illness. The rest of the village only found out about the disease after her death when the police checked her medical records, said Diwakar.
While several other reports said that the woman was ostracised because of her illness, Huffpost India, the police claimed that she wasn't shunted by villagers.
The police was informed of the body floating in the lake on 29 November.
Authorities said that despite trying to explain to villagers that they would get the waters tested, the villagers did not budge and requested for the lake to be cleaned.
Pavitra Patil, Navalgund Taluk Panchayat Environment Officer, said, "We worked really hard to explain to the villagers and spread awareness, but they would not listen. We don't know yet how the woman died, but the villagers say they she is HIV positive. My senior, the PDO also went, but to no avail."
Patil said that the work for clearing the lake was still going on and should be finished tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the woman's body has been returned to the family after the post mortem, but the report is yet to come, the police said.