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You can participate in a reality show as long as you are not HIV positive

29 July 2011 / 22:07:20  GRReporter
4559 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova


TV show for potential creators of exquisite dishes Masterchef attracted the interest of tens of thousands of viewers last season. Few of them, however know that one of the selected to participate in the series players refused, because of discrimination. Director of the non government organization Praksis Tzanetos Antypas told GRReporter why. "He was in the group of the 16 people who were to participate in the series. Before they started shooting people from the production company made blood tests to the participants for HIV, without asking them whether they agree, which is prohibited by law and thus they found out that the boy is a carrier of the virus. Then he was told that in order for him to continue to participate he will need to use a separate bathroom and bedroom from the other participants, although it is known that the virus is not transmitted by social contact between people. Practically, the boy would have been separated from the rest, actually having a finger pointed at him and being blamed. He refused to participate and he is currently suing the production company, having the support of non government organizations. We have cases of people who were dismissed from work because their bosses are afraid that they may get infected, as well as the case of a mother who is HIV positive and the school headmaster refused to enroll her HIV positive children".

According Dzanetos this is just one of hundreds of examples of discrimination towards HIV positive people in Greece. The most - negative is, however, the fact that it often comes from people who need help and support the people having the AIDS virus, rather than trying to isolate them.

"There are many cases when surgeons refuse to operate on people carriers of the virus and justify this completely illegal action, arguing that they do not want to put themselves or their team in danger. We members of non governmental organizations always emphasize what the law itself points out to a large extent: All doctors must treat, operate and give cares to all patients by seeing them as potential carriers of HIV. I.e. they should take such protective measures as if all their patients are HIV positive. This is the minimum to which they should aspire. I mean proper sterilization of their instruments, use of gloves, etc. Why should a person warn the doctor that he is HIV positive in order for the doctor to be more careful? In this sense, why should we create separate divisions for special treatment or dental offices for carriers of the AIDS virus? This is unacceptable for us.

Just recently we were alerted to the case of a legal immigrant from Africa who is HIV-positive and has serious kidney problems and should go to haemodialysis every other day. He told us that the staff from the hospital in Halkida refuse to serve him under the pretext that they don’t have the necessary equipment. Thus the man is forced to travel every other day to have his therapy in Athens."

Even more shocking is the case with HIV-positive mothers, some of who can not find a hospital in which to give birth until the last minute. According to the person in charge of the social service of the nongovernment organization Kentro Zois (Center of Life) Anna Kavouri fact that "from January to June this year we were visited by five HIV positive pregnant women speaks for itself. One of them could not find a gynecologist to take care of her until the last day before birth."

NGOs still indicate that the problem with mothers is about to be solved, after for nearly a year in the largest state maternity hospital in Athens "Helena Venizelou" informally created a special sector for them.

"In the case of pregnant women carriers of the virus we must be fair and note how dynamic and timely was the intervention of the National Center for Prevention of infectious diseases. The problem was that from the gynecological clinic they transferred the responsibility to the district directorate of healthcare, and they in turn transferred it to the Ministry. But we had the support of the clinic's director, who worked hard to create a special sector. The clinic also hired a doctor from the Centre, who heads the sector for HIV positive mothers. We hope they will soon have their own room and they won’t have the previous problems", said the chairman of Praxis.

But people having AIDS often lack access to antiretroviral therapy, on which their life depends. "One serious problem that has not yet been resolved on a central level is associated with sailors. When traveling, they are actually not in Greek territorial waters and thus they are unable to have their treatment that should be done once a month. This means that they cannot take with them their medication for three or four months for example. Or when they have large gaps between travel they lose their insurance rights and thus their treatment cannot be continued.

Another category are illegal immigrants. They are unable or unwilling to return to their countries, but those who carry the virus must be traced, because in this way not only do you protect carriers themselves, but also you create a safety net for the residents of the country.

In the third category fall the Greeks, who lose their insurance rights since they remain unemployed due to the crisis. Bureaucracy for such a person to be able to obtain a card for being an uninsured persons from the Department of Social Services, is so great that the whole process can take several months. What happens to these people in the meantime?".

Tags: Society AIDS HIV positive discrimination doctors pregnant antiretroviral therapy non government organizations
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