Thursday, November 22, 2012

Uzbekistan: No Place for Children With HIV

This article originally appeared in the Institute for War and Peace Reporting,

Uzbekistan: No Place for Children With HIV

By News Briefing Central Asia - News Briefing Central Asia

Healthcare activists in Uzbekistan say children with HIV are routinely denied places in specialised care institutions.

In one recent case, four children aged seven and eight were refused admission to a state home for the disabled.

"This leaves open the question of where children who have HIV and congenital defects should be placed if their parents abandon them," an HIV-issues activist in Tashkent said.

Health officials cite instructions which the Uzbek government issued in August 2011, barring children with HIV from care facilities for the disabled. This document lists HIV alongside tuberculosis, serious infectious diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases.

The activist cited a recent case where a disabled care home turned out a child with HIV and told her grandfather he would receive financial support for looking after her at home. When he tried to bring her back because he had received no assistance and could not afford the costs, he was refused help.

The non-government Cancer Care Society and the Association of People Living With HIV have written to President Islam Karimov and to the health and education ministries asking them to find a solution.

"They are ignoring the legal rights of their citizens," the association’s head Sergei Uchaev said. "This is discrimination in a country where the law says children must be protected by the state."

The four children who were refused permanent places are currently being cared for at various treatment centres.

Uzbekistan’s official HIV/AIDS centre says there are just over 21,500 people with HIV in the country, and the figure is rising at about 3,500 new cases a year. But it does not public separate statistics on children with HIV. One paediatric doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, estimated that there were about 2,500 in the whole of Uzbekistan.

This article was produced as part of News Briefing Central Asia output, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.