The European Court Reminds Countries To Fight HIV-Stigma
Author: M. G.
Thursday 10th of October 2013 04:58:05 PM

In 2005 I.B. lost his job as jewel manufacter in Greece given his HIV+ status. This week – 7 years later! – the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) stated that this fact violated the European Convention on Human Rights. HIV+ individuals’ health rights includes  positive obligations by the State to ensure availability of proper HIV-related information, education and support to help lessen the stigmatization surrounding HIV.

As in the Russian case Kiyutin v. Russia, this episode shows the lack of states’ laws in preventing discrimination. You just can't expect the EU to cry out each time a discriminatory act is committed. On the contrary, countries  - also western countries  - must implement a higher knowledge about HIV/AIDS into the society, with the aim of lowering discrimination.

I.B. contracted HIV in 2005 and he was already working for the same employer for 4 years. He talked about his status with some colleagues of him, who afterwards asked the employer to dismiss I.B., becasue they felt that his status could put other’s health and right of work at risk. The visit of a doctor, asked to explain to the employees how HIV is transmitted, didn't make them change their opinion. Therefore I.B was dismissed with the appropriate compensation provided under Greek law – I.B. was then reemployed by another private company.

The discussion of this case within the Greek courts highlighted many facts, such as that I.B.’s colleagues had completely unfounded opinions about HIV and the dismissal did not have reasons, since HIV was not affecting I.B.’s abilities at work. Sadly it was also stated that there was no need for I.B. to be reinstated since he had already found another job and that the dismissal helped in restoring the harmony in hos old work environment after I.B.’s coming out as HIV+.

These are official statements made by a Greek court and they are discriminatory against every HIV+ person. 

I.B. needed the ECtHR to issue a judgement last October 3 to prove that there were no reasons at all for his termination. If you are HIV- your life conditions are not put at risk by a HIV+ person just working with you. On the other side, being HIV+ is not just something that affects your health status but it can also strongly lower the quality of your social and working life. There was no balance in preserving I.B.’s interest and those of the employer, furthermore the reasons for the employer’s decisions came from mistaken notions and prejudices surrounding HIV – I.B.’s colleagues are actually those to blame the most.

 

This explanation from the ECtHR is really effective in describing what discrimination can be and it is funny how much they sound like simple common sense tips that could help many people to be more open minded, or merely smarter. For more information about HIV and Human Rights, see the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ webpage on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights and UNAIDS’ Targets and Commitments for achieving improved prevention, treatment, care and support.

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