Monday Nov 08 2021

Sindh public hospitals discriminating against people with HIV and AIDS

A representative image.
A representative image.
  • Experts lament discrimination against people with HIV/ AIDS at Sindh health facilities.
  • HIV/AIDS Sindh CDC Additional Director Dr Ershad Kazmi highlights dismal situation of gynaecology wards of public hospitals.
  • Calls for training of health care providers in Sindh.

People in Sindh who have HIV and AIDS, especially women, are often denied admission to hospitals, including emergency wards, making them reluctant to seek treatment at public tertiary care facilities in Karachi and the rest of Sindh.

This was expressed during a meeting to review the HIV treatment centres in the province organised by the Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Directorate of HIV and AIDS in Sindh on Saturday.

It was attended by the in-charges and officials of the HIV treatment centres. They spoke about their performance and highlighted issues being faced by them and HIV patients in the province.

“An HIV infected woman, who was pregnant after three miscarriages, was humiliated and derogatory remarks were passed against her being pregnant at the gynaecology ward of the Civil Hospital, Karachi. She was so upset that her family took her to a private health facility for delivery. This case was highlighted at the international level and caused immense humiliation for the country,” an official of the directorate told the meeting, as per a report published in The News.

HIV/AIDS Sindh CDC Additional Director Dr Ershad Kazmi shared that problems of access to health care for people living with HIV had come up in the meeting as the HIV treatment centre in-charges and other officials said patients faced discrimination and there were cases where they were denied treatment at tertiary-care treatment facilities.

“Either they [HIV-infected people] are not admitted to wards or they are humiliated for being infected with HIV. In most cases, people at the top, including medical superintendents and doctors, nurses and paramedics, discriminate against the patients, which is quite alarming,” Dr Kazmi said was quoted as saying.

Experts call for training of Sindh's health care providers

He specifically highlighted the dismal situation of the gynaecology wards of public hospitals, calling for training of healthcare providers.

Kazmi proposed the set up of HIV treatment centres where male, female and children infected with HIV could be provided treatment and diagnostic facilities under one roof.

On the provision of financial support to families of children living with HIV in Ratodero, Dr Kazmi said he had proposed financial assistance to the families of the HIV-infected children in the entire province.

Aga Khan University Hospital infectious diseases specialist Dr Faisal Mehmood, too, conceded that patients with HIV are facing discrimination at public health facilities. He agreed healthcare providers needed training to treat and deal with the patients living with HIV in a better manner.

“Like common people, some doctors and healthcare providers also hesitate in dealing with HIV patients, but I think it is more related to their lack of information and training about infection prevention and control,” he observed.

Dr Saima Mushtaq from the CDC vowed to help the officials of the HIV treatment centres deal with their problems. She said officials of the health department would be approached to help out officials dealing with the HIV situation in Sindh.