School for People Living with HIV Teaches that “You Are Not Alone”

For Nadezhda, the challenges of an HIV diagnosis were made worse by the discrimination she experienced from doctors and nurses at her local hospital. In spite of hospital confidentiality policies, her diagnosis was discussed openly by staff members, and her medical records were marked with red ink. Stigmatized and embarrassed, Nadezhda stopped going to the hospital for treatment.

 

“One day I received a call from the AIDS Center inviting me to come in for a check-up,” - says Nadezhda. “As I was leaving the Center, I was approached by staff members from the public organization “You Are Not Alone.” They told me about their project and invited me to a seminar on ‘The Rights of People Living with HIV’. After the seminar, I received an additional consultation with a lawyer. He told me about my rights and opportunities to resolve the problem. It seems that in order to live peacefully in the community with HIV, I needed to know my rights and how to protect them. I started to gain confidence.”

Nadezhda returned to the local hospital where she had been stigmatized. She reminded her doctor about Article 321 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan, “On Disclosure of a Patient’s HIV Status and Infringement of Human Rights”. The doctor asked Nadezhda to find a new physician. Only when Nadezhda insisted that the doctor write an official refusal to provide treatment did he admit that he had been wrong. After this frank conversation about her rights, Nadezhda saw a significant improvement in the attitude of hospital staff towards her.  

Nadezhda went on to attend summer and winter training programs for people living with HIV, organized by “You are Not Alone”. The trainings bring patients from AIDS Centers together with doctors from the drug treatment center, infectious diseases hospital, AIDS centers, tuberculosis centers, and the regional public health department.

“After attending the summer and winter schools for people living with AIDS, I understood that I am not alone. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be here today. After long months of loneliness, I was lucky enough to become a participant in the project, which helped me gain legal knowledge, improve my mental state, feel like a member of society, and understand that people living with HIV need to be more active and open in the fight against AIDS. I very much hope that I can join the organization's Board of Patients, and that I can make my own contribution to the fight against this disease,” - she added.

Alexander Pak, project director at “You are Not Alone”, reports that the project has already benefitted 45 people living with HIV like Nadezhda. Patients have begun to knowledgeably defend their rights, and more than 141 people have improved their psychological state and found motivation and a reason to participate in the HIV program and become part of the community living with HIV in the city of Pavlodar,” - shared project director Alexander Pak.

The organization’s summer and winter schools for people living with HIV are made possible by the Good Governance Initiative Fund, a project of the US Agency for International Development and the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia. The Fund awards grants to traditionally underserved CSOs in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to improve governance practice through improved public service delivery, public policy, and legislation.

Last modified on Saturday, 18 February 2017 15:25
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