Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mexico: HIV stigma costs patients their friends and jobs

HIV-Aids - HIV stigma costs patients their friends and jobs
Mexico City - As Mexico prepares to host the first world Aids conference in Latin America, HIV-positive people in the region struggle with stigma, discrimination and access to antiretroviral drugs.

Demonstrations aimed at raising Aids awareness have begun here before the start this weekend of the six-day meeting.

A demonstrator, Maria del Carmen, said when her husband, Carlos, whom she was pushing in a wheelchair, disclosed he had HIV, she lost her job. Her husband's cousins rejected him. "They said they had to burn everything he had touched."

Most countries in Latin America, where about 1.7-million are HIV-positive, according to UNAids, have laws against discrimination, but rarely sanction those who breach them.

In Nicaragua, Julio Mena, 36, a former Sandinista soldier who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion on the battlefield, was fired from his job as a tax inspector. Hospital staff refuse to treat him immediately when he is sick.

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