Arrests, Trials of HIV-Positive Men in Egypt Fueling Stigma Against People Living With Disease, Endangering Human Rights, Group Says
Recent arrests and trials of HIV-positive men in Egypt are endangering human rights and fueling discrimination against people living with the disease in the country, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports (AP/International Herald Tribune, 2/6). HRW documented several arrests beginning in October 2007, when two men were detained during an altercation in Cairo and taken to the so-called "Morality Police" after one man said that he was HIV-positive, the AFP/Yahoo! News reports.
According to HRW, the two men said they were beaten, handcuffed to a desk for four days and subjected to forensic anal examinations after refusing to sign statements written for them by the authorities (AFP/Yahoo! News, 2/6). Egyptian authorities also arrested two other men whose pictures and phone numbers were found on the first two detainees, as well as four additional men who moved into the apartment where one of the previous detainees had lived, the group said.
The first four men remain in detention with pending charges (Johnston, Reuters, 2/6). All were subjected to HIV tests without their consent, HRW said. Two of the men, who allegedly tested HIV-positive, are in the hospital handcuffed to their hospital beds, according to the HRW. All of the four men who lived in the apartment were convicted in mid-January of "habitual practice of debauchery" and sentenced to one year in jail, HRW said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 2/6).
"These shocking arrests and trials embody both ignorance and injustice," Scott Long -- director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at HRW -- said, adding, "Egypt threatens not just its international reputation but its own population if it responds to the HIV/AIDS epidemic with prison terms instead of prevention and care" (HRW release, 2/5). HRW also called on the government to "end arbitrary arrests based on HIV status and take steps to end prejudice and misinformation about HIV/AIDS" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 2/6).