Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Medical profession prejudice towards HIV/AIDS in Armenia

While public prejudice towards HIV/AIDS in Armenia is a very serious issue which needs to be tackled via education and awareness programmes, even more serious and unacceptable is medical profession prejudice which has direct impact on prevention and treatment of people with HIV/AIDS. Below is an account by HIV-positive Armenian, via report published by IWPR (Institute For War & Peace Reporting). It also raises a serious issue of lack of proper ethical regulation (and its enforcement) of medical profession in Armenia.

Armen (not his real name) is 38 years old. A former drug addict, he got the infection through needle-sharing and passed it on unwittingly to his wife.

"I learned that I had HIV in 2004," he said. "I am sure HIV is now spreading very rapidly in Armenia. The figures seem modest, but for a country with a small population they are quite high. I wish they would talk more about the problem to make young people take more precautions. It's very important to me, as I have a teenage daughter."

The way doctors treat us makes us keep silent about our status," said Armen. "For example, when I went to the dentist, I used to tell them I was HIV-positive, but then they refused to treat me. Now I know better and I only tell them I have hepatitis-C and that they should sterilise their instruments thoroughly. Hepatitis is also incurable, but I mention it instead because it doesn't lead to the same kind of discrimination."

Armen's close friends and relatives know about his condition, but with others he is discreet, worrying that he will never find a job and that his family will face harassment if people find out.

"One of my friends died of the disease," he said. "His neighbours found out about it from a doctor who'd treated him, and began shunning his family members, avoiding him in the street or not saying hello. His family was forced to sell their flat and move to another area."

Read also HIV/AIDS situation in Armenia

No comments: