Indian authorities are pumping water out of a sprawling southern lake to assuage villagers’ fears it was contaminated after the discovery of the body of a woman infected with HIV, a regional official said on Wednesday.
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.
“We tried our best to assure the villagers that we would get the water tested, but they did not budge and even refused to come near the lake,” said Naveen Hullur, who is in charge of the area.
The lake near the village of Morab in Karnataka, about 440 km (273 miles) from the state’s capital of Bengaluru, covers 32 acres (13 hectares).
It is a key source of drinking water for more than 1,000 people who live in the drought-affected region and earn their livelihoods by farming.
The drainage operation has run for the last four days and freshwater from a nearby canal is to be used to replenish the lake over the next four to five days, Hullur added. He did not provide additional details.
It was not immediately clear what the cost of the drainage operation is. Public health officials in the region did not immediately respond to telephone calls and email messages from Reuters to seek comment.
The HIV which causes AIDS is not spread in air, water or in food, or by sharing cups, bowls, cutlery, clothing, or toilet seats. It cannot survive in the body after the infected person dies.