HIV-positive patients in Bulgaria are dying as medics refuse to give them basic care including dental check-ups amid fears of catching the virus, it has been claimed.
Doctor Stanimir Hasardziev, president of the National Patients’ Organisation in Bulgaria, said that a number of doctors are too afraid to work with HIV-positive patients.
He gave one example of a patient who needed nose surgery to resolve a breathing problem, but when the HIV-positive man sent requests to numerous hospitals, half of them refused and the other half failed to reply.
Last month, an unnamed man with HIV died after several hospitals allegedly refused to treat him.
Another man with HIV, identified as Yasen, told local media that his dentist called him a “danger” to himself and other patients and refused to treat him.
However, the virus is easily treatable today and although not yet curable, antiretroviral drugs can control HIV and offer patients long and healthy lives.
But the stigma of being infected in Bulgaria is causing many people at risk to refuse to be tested, resulting in rising levels of HIV infection despite the fact that generally levels are falling across the world.
in Eastern Europe generally, HIV infections having roughly doubled over 20 years.
In Bulgaria the number of gay and bisexual men who are being infected annually is rising by nearly a third according to the countries health ministry at a conference earlier this month.
Dr Hasardziev said: “People who receive treatment find themselves with an undetectable virus that can neither infect medical staff or sexual partners. They are completely normal people who do not differ from anyone else.”
According to Dr Hasardziev, the safety standards for treating patients with HIV should be the same for everyone and as long as medical staff following the basic procedures, there is no risk to themselves.
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