Press release: Positive Decisions In Favor of Positive People
World AIDS Day, December 1 - is not just an occasion to emphasize the living conditions and the prevalence of the AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. The necessarily is arising to ask more critical question – how do HIV-positive people feel and whether are their rights protected?
Analysis conducted by the advocates of the Ukrainian Network of free legal assistance to HIV-infected and drug users argues: these categories of people are among the most discriminated groups of people in the Ukrainian society. They have no access to such basic rights as the right to education, right to health care, even to the right to life.
For today, pursuant to statistic data, Ukraine reserves the first position in Europe on spreading of HIV-infection, officially, according to the data of State Service of Ukraine on counteracting of HIV-infection/AIDS since 1987 more than 241 thousand cases of infection have been registered. Unofficially, this number is larger. According to the experts UNAIDS the estimated number of HIV-infected people in Ukraine is 270 thousand.
For more than a year the Ukrainian Network of free legal aid to HIV-infected and drug users is functioning. More than 4500 people have applied to it. Only this year 116 HIV-infected persons (of general amount of 3764) have applied, 46 of them have been represented before the courts. Currently, the advocates are extending the network of the provision of legal assistance to people with HIV and drug users among the regions in order this discriminated category of people will be able to protect their rights.
Despite of the existence of the national legislation which protects the rights of HIV-infected people for work and activity of non-government organizations in this sphere, people still remain vulnerable both to the threat of infection and after the period when they become aware of their status. Their right for privacy is violated; they face negative attitudes and discrimination in employment, in health care facilities, especially in places of deprivation of liberty.
The lawyers and advocates of the Ukrainian Network of free legal assistance of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group work for the protection of the violated rights of HIV-positive people and drug users. The main part of violations are disclosure of the diagnosis, refusal to provide medical care or provision of medical care of poor quality, lack of access to the SMT in places of temporary deprivation of liberty.
“In Ukraine HIV-infected people are considered outcasts. They lack even the rights the value of which we often do not appreciate, do not notice their presence, - says the coordinator of the Network of provision of free legal assistance to HIV-positive people and drug users Gennady Tokarev - everything starts with a kindergarten, school, when HIV - positive children are deprived of the right to education, to a normal existence, their diagnosis is disclosed. HIV-positive people are often denied of medical treatment. Because of the state of their health they simply needto be in the hospital, but without professional legal assistance they are deprived even of this right, they are simply denied of treatment. However, the most illustrative cases are HIV-positive persons in the places of deprivation of liberty. The law permits to release convicted persons which are in a terminal state, for HIV it is the fourth, clinical stage. However, without the intervention of a lawyer without collecting documents only with good will that does not happen. We have a number of decisions in which we could obtain the release of mortally ailing people. In this case the assistance of a lawyer is the chance to live as a human at least for short period of time.
Thus, the lawyers of the Network in Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv, Nikolaev and Kiev succeeded in obtaining of decisions about the release of terminally ill people with AIDS from prisons and replacement of imprisonment with punishments not related to the imprisonment for HIV-positive persons. Among them are several cases where seriously ill women were in detention.
Moreover, for the first time in the history of Ukraine the advocate Oleg Nesinov has achieved financial compensation for the infection of the child in the hospital during manipulation after birth. And it happened when the child was already 16 years old.
In Nikolaev it was achieved the restoration of the rights of HIV-positive people to be drivers with the legal assistance of the advocate Igor Skalko. The advocate has won three cases in which patients were tried to be brought to administrative responsibility for driving under the influence of drugs. Because of their drug tests showed that it seemed they were smoking marijuana. Although they were not taking any medications other than antiretroviral therapy, which supported a state of the person with HIV, and that needs to be continuous. False test results were made by the medicament efarynez, which is part of antiretroviral therapy. The lawyer proved that the patients were driving quite sober and they shall be eligible for driving.
And there are only separate cases that characterize the work of lawyers who help people living with HIV to protect their rights and obtain decisions in their favor.
The project " Legal aid networking for vulnerable groups " of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group is funded by the International Foundation "Renaissance".
For obtaining additional information, contacts of the lawyers you shall reply to Marina Nikolaeva,
Kharkiv Human Rights Group
The network of legal aid for PLWHA and PWUD
P.O.B. 10397, 61002, Kharkiv, Ukraine
Tel./fax + 38 (057) 70 06 281, 700 67 72
Станислав Ежи Лец