Daily, active fight against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS-sufferers

My message on the occasion of World-AIDS-Day

HIV-education, -prevention and -treatment are rights for all people.
Avoiding stigma & discrimination allows everyone to use these rights.

Kiumars Seraj Elahy

Aids IranMeanwhile, more than 30 years have passed since AIDS was recognized as a disease (1 December 1981) and, unfortunately, still many people become infected with HIV in the Iranian society.

HIV and AIDS in Iran continues to be a social taboo.
There is no explanation, neither on the radio or on television, nor on billboards or in other printed media. In the schools, subjects such as sex, contraception or AIDS simply do not exist.
All people know about it, they learn today from the Internet.

A deadly disease like AIDS stoking fears and concerns in all human societies, particularly when lack of knowledge replaces awareness and familiarity.
Many people believe that this disease usually affects drug users, prostitutes, transsexuals and homosexuals (besides homosexuality is still prohibited by law). People of these risk groups are despised because they live immoral according to the ideas and beliefs of the majority of society, and in the eyes of religious fanatics they are moreover living a sinful life.

Although HIV is relating to society as a whole and concerns men and women from all strata of society, many people are afraid of not being accepted by the society, by the family, by classmates and colleagues. That’s why sufferers prefer to remain silent, they feel inferior and expelled and instead suffer from depression.

Since a few years the “World-AIDS-Day” was removed from the Iranian calendar.
Last year, the Iranian Islamic government has passed a law that declares condoms to unnecessary goods and luxury items. On this legal basis, the import of condoms into the country was banned at the same time.

The large number of HIV-infected stems from the risk group of drug users. One-third of HIV-infections is due to the risk group that maintains illegal sexual contacts according to Iranian viewing.
However, these risk groups officially exist not at all!

The health minister of Iran, Dr. Abbas Sedaghat, says that within recent years HIV-infections have increased 3 till 4 times especially by sexual contact among young people.
However, he did not tell that the revocation of the import ban of condoms would be an important way for HIV-prevention and against other sexually transmitted diseases.
In Iran there is very little work with HIV-prevention. There are no reports in media and approximately only 1% of people know how to protect themselves from HIV-infection.

Dr. Minu Mohrez, head of the AIDS Research Department said that 99% of patients who come to us have been infected through sexual intercourse with HIV. She also explained that the number of infected women in Iran has increased further this year (2014).

Similarly, one can not be sure 100% that blood units were tested for HIV. Many blood donation recipients are therefore infected by contaminated blood with HIV.

Because they can not afford expensive drugs from the West or they don’t want to, Iran together with Russia has developed his own high-dose herbal remedy in the fight against immunodeficiency AIDS a few years ago, claiming that the spread of AIDS can be prevented with this medication. The Iranian Research Center for HIV has this drug, that’s named “IMOD”, tested and confirmed its immune-boosting effects.

Many doctors and dentists refuse to investigate or to treat HIV-infected people or people with AIDS.
In Iran these affected people have no perspective, because ultimately remains AIDS despite everything taboo subject.

Some of them do not know their rights. Also, they have no points of contact and therefore don’t know to whom they can turn in case of discrimination.

“I’m afraid to touch you because you’re different. You can infect me!” – Unfortunately a sad quote which shows exactly what we’re fighting!

Many people want to talk and get rid of their load on their non-acceptance and / or their everyday discrimination.

We still have much to do in this country and it is still a long way in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

The theme for World-AIDS-Day is “positive living together!”

Show Infected that they do not need fear discrimination. Intervene if someone talks bad about Infected! Let us all live together positively – not just on World-AIDS-Day!

(translated by Jens Waechter)

Kiumars Seraj Elahy
(- Qualified as a multiplier of the “Mumm-Project”, initiated by the “German AIDS Service Organization” (DAH) in cooperation with the “Berlin AIDS Service Organization” (BAH) for HIV / STI-Prevention, living with HIV and for the education of migrants about the health care system in Germany.
– Participant as an interviewer on the German AIDS Service Organization’s project “Positive Voices” in the fight against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV / AIDS in Germany.)