Iraqi AIDS Patients, Relatives Detained in ‘Secret Locations’ During Hussein Regime
Iraqi AIDS patients and their relatives since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime on April 9 have been "revealing a harrowing glimpse" of their lives under the regime, Agence France-Presse reports. Dr. Karim Nada, an Iraqi AIDS hospital director, said that Iraqi AIDS patients and their relatives were detained in secret hospitals during the Hussein regime. Most of the AIDS patients were locked in "guarded secret locations because the government decided that there was no AIDS in the country," Nada said. The Ibn Zuhur hospital separated its HIV wing from the rest of the facility and placed a sign at its entrance that read, "Do Not Enter. You Will Contract Infectious Diseases." The HIV-positive patients and their relatives who were detained did not have any visitation rights, and the families remained locked up until their relatives died. After their deaths, the AIDS patients were placed in double coffins -- one wooden, one steel -- and were buried in two secret cemeteries in Baghdad. In addition, HIV-positive people were not allowed to be married except in cases where both partners were HIV-positive, according to a man identified as Basam who declined to provide his last name. Iraq acknowledged its first AIDS case in 1986, and all foreign visitors to the country had to undergo HIV testing. The government subsequently reported 180 official AIDS cases, but according to Iraqi doctors, the real number exceeds several hundred (Agence France-Presse, 5/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.