HIV-Positive Women, Children in Russia Face Widespread Discrimination, Abuse, Report Says
HIV-positive women and children in Russia often face widespread discrimination and abuse, even from health care professionals, according to a Human Rights Watch report released on Friday, BBC News reports. "The stigma of HIV/AIDS is with them everywhere: in the workplace, at school, at the neighborhood clinic, even in their own homes," HRW Children's Rights Director Lois Whitman said (BBC News, 7/15). Many HIV-positive women experience verbal abuse from health care providers and some are denied treatment, according to the 41-page report, titled "Positively Abandoned: Stigma and Discrimination Against HIV-Positive Mothers and Their Children in Russia" (HRW release, 7/15). HIV-positive infants who are abandoned at birth are segregated in orphanages or hospital wards because people are afraid of coming into contact with them, the AP/Mainichi Daily News reports. HRW criticized the Russian government for failing to implement standards to protect HIV-positive women and children and inadequately addressing the epidemic in the country. HRW urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to help reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination and promote public awareness of the disease. The report also recommended that the country's health ministry end the segregation of HIV-positive infants and improve training for medical and child care workers (AP/Mainichi Daily News, 7/15). Russia has registered 307,000 HIV cases, but HIV/AIDS experts estimate more than one million HIV-positive people live in Russia and as many as one million Russians could die of AIDS-related causes by 2008 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.