Iranian Health Ministry Orders Iranian Doctors to Treat All HIV/AIDS Patients
The Iranian Health Ministry on Monday issued a directive requiring all private and state medical facilities to provide immediate assistance to HIV-positive patients and to catalog all HIV/AIDS cases, Agence France-Presse reports. The state news agency IRNA quoted the directive, signed by Deputy Health Minister Mohammed Ismael Akbari, which said that "[a]ny refusal to accept [HIV-positive individuals as patients] is against the law and because of the social problem which it creates, any violation will be followed up" (Agence France-Presse, 12/30). According to BBC News, the number of new HIV cases in Iran has "risen steadily" in recent years, and the latest official statistics indicated that approximately 21,000 people in Iran are HIV-positive, 65% of whom contracted the virus through infected needles used to inject drugs (BBC News, 12/30). However, medical sources have said that the number of HIV-positive Iranians could be much higher than the current estimates because blood tests are usually administered only to blood donors, prisoners and those preparing to get married. In addition, taboos regarding certain sexual practices and HIV/AIDS itself and potential criminal penalties for drug use have also kept Iranian people from obtaining HIV tests or seeking treatment. Iranian authorities are currently considering needle exchange programs as a way to decrease HIV spread among injection drug users, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 12/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.