Yemen: HIV Patients Denied Health Care

Published: November 3, 2014

Original Article:

People with HIV and AIDS are routinely denied care within Yemen’s health care system, Human Rights Watch said in an October 2014 letter to the Yemeni minister of health released today. Yemeni authorities should end discrimination by health workers against people with HIV and ensure patients’ equal access to healthcare services, as mandated by a 2009 law.

“Kicking sick people out of the hospital because they have HIV is not just discriminatory, it’s cruel,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The Health Ministry should enforce Yemen’s law barring discrimination against people who are HIV-positive.”

In September 2014, Human Rights Watch spoke to seven HIV-positive individuals in Yemen who said that they had been repeatedly refused treatment once medical staff found out their HIV status. Six health workers told Human Rights Watch they believed such discrimination was common in state-run healthcare facilities. A 2009 law provides free health services to people with HIV and imposes criminal penalties on health workers who discriminate against them.

Three health professionals told Human Rights Watch that on August 15, 2014, at the state-run Republican Hospital in Sanaa, a doctor refused to treat a patient suffering from seizures when she learned the patient was HIV-positive. In front of other patients and staff, the doctor shouted that the patient had HIV and ordered that she be removed from the hospital. The doctor also demanded that the patient’s husband be arrested for having withheld this information; hospital staff held him for 45 minutes before releasing him with the warning that he should “not cause any trouble in the future.”

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