Fighting The Social Stigma of HIV in Jordan

Published February 11th, 2021 - 02:08 GMT

HIV-related stigma and discrimination constitute a major challenge faced by people living with AIDS, according to Forearms of Change Centre, a local non-governmental organisation in Amman.

The government demands nationals to undergo HIV testing when seeking employment in the public sector and for non-nationals obtaining work permits, and denies them jobs if they are HIV-positive. Foreign nationals found to be HIV-positive are deported, Abdallah Hanatleh, director general of Forearms of Change Centre, told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, HIV patients do not find the support they need from the health personnel, and there are no deterring laws or punishment for violators of the rights of those patients,” he said

HIV patients face challenges in seeking and accessing needed services such as work, education, health, marriage and reproduction,” Hanatleh added.

“We work on raising awareness of health and social issues. We target all nationalities in Jordan and all governorates, not only the capital, Amman. Our services are provided for anyone in need, including consultation, examination for all sexually transmitted diseases, psychological and social support, legal consultations and much more. We implement our programmes to provide health and social services to commensurate with the social context as HIV is a sensitive issue,” Hanatleh said.

Forearms of Change Centre was established in 2012 as a non-profit organisation that aims to empower local communities socially and environmentally, with its main target being the disadvantaged and the vulnerable, according to its website.

The total number of HIV cases registered in Jordan since 1986 is 480, including deaths. Twenty-one new cases have been recorded since the beginning of 2020, according to officials.

“In the 80s and 90s, the virus was mostly transmitted from abroad, but in recent years more cases are diagnosed within Jordan,” Hiyam Maqtash, the director of the National AIDS Programme, told The Jordan Times.

She noted in a previous statement that 25 per cent of infections were registered among the 30-39 age group during the last three years. Moreover, in the last two years, more infections were reported among people between 20 and 24 years old, Maqtash said.

The government provides every HIV patient with access to all health and medical services for free along with free follow-ups and tests, according to officials.

“The stigma and discrimination by medical professionals and employers often bar HIV patients from accessing basic rights, without any legal action,” Maqtash noted, stressing the importance of raising awareness and providing medical professionals with the right education and training.

Hanatleh called for more governmental programmes to help people living with HIV.

This article has been adapted from its original source.  

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