Half of Families of Libyan HIV-Positive Children Oppose Negotiations in Case of Alleged Intentional Infection by Bulgarian Nurses
About half of the family members of the more than 400 HIV-positive Libyan children who were allegedly intentionally infected by five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor oppose any negotiations with the Bulgarian government regarding the case, Idris Laga, chair of the Association of Relatives of Children Infected With AIDS, said recently at an HIV/AIDS conference in Homs, Libya, the Bulgarian News Agency reports (Bulgarian News Agency, 4/11). The Libyan Supreme Court last month opened a hearing on the case of the health care workers, who in May 2004 were sentenced to death by firing squad for allegedly infecting the children through contaminated blood products. The workers, who have been detained in the country since 1999, also were ordered to pay a total of $1 million to the families of the HIV-positive children. Libyan Leader Moammar Kadafi has accused the health workers of taking orders from the CIA and the Israeli secret service to kill the children in order to destabilize the country. However, some European governments and human rights groups say that the infections likely are the result of the Libyan Health Ministry's failure to screen blood products adequately and poor sterilization practices at Al Fateh Children's Hospital in Benghazi, where the children were infected. The Libyan government previously has said it would free the nurses if Bulgaria paid compensation equal to the amount Libya paid to relatives of the victims of the 1988 plane bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, which reportedly was carried out by Libyan secret service agents. However, Bulgaria so far has declined to pay compensation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/30). Mohamed Gaza, international affairs secretary of the Libyan students' union, said that the country has no anti-Bulgarian sentiment regarding the incident, adding, "For us, these are a group of people who have committed a crime and should be punished" (Bulgarian News Agency, 4/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.