Accessibility links

Red Cross, Red Crescent to Fight Isolation Facing AIDS Victims - 2001-12-18


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies is mobilizing to help end the social isolation many AIDS victims suffer. The federation wants to protect victims of the disease from such human rights and health care abuses. Next May, the Red Cross Federation will kick off a fight against the social stigma faced by those with HIV/AIDS. The federation unveiled its plan Tuesday at a conference on home and community for people with the AIDS virus in the Thai city of Chiang Mai. The campaign comes as awareness grows that social isolation adds to the pandemic's spread more than 32 million people in the world are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. Alvaro Bermajo, the federation's health department head in Geneva, said the social stigma the disease carries can prevent people from seeking medical help, which adds to the spread of the disease. "In a way people are saying stigma kills as much as the virus kills and that is true. This stigmatization is not allowing countries, societies to build up an effective response to the epidemic because it is driving HIV positive people underground and it is preventing people from wanting to be tested and wanting to know their status," he said. The federation sees such stigmatization as a breach of human rights and a violation of basic health measures. "We also have to help people understand that if they stigmatize and discriminate against people living with HIV and AIDS, what happens they will never be able to engage in the response to put a face to the epidemic to come out to want to be tested, to care for themselves and their partners when they know they are positive," said Dr. Bermajo. The program will aim at teaching young adults, members of the military and commercial sex workers around the world more about the disease. The campaign will capitalize on the reputation and reach of the Red Cross to project a better image of those with HIV/AIDS and to fight discrimination against them. Dr Bermajo hopes the Red Cross education campaign can protect HIV and AIDS patients who face discrimination and isolation in their own communities.

XS
SM
MD
LG