The Valencian Association of HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis (Avacos-H) receives a call from a hospital. A patient that they had in the plant has been transferred to a residence with arranged places, to which they have referred the elderly on other occasions. But this time man has not been accepted. 350 kilometers from there, in Madrid, the September 26 Foundation accompanies in its last days a person who needs palliative care and who has been denied home help service. The reason, in both cases, is the same: be HIV positive.
None of these circumstances is distant in time. They happened last year. And they are due to the consideration of HIV as an infectious disease, a status that different organizations fight to change. "It is infectotransmisible", defends Federico Armenteros, president of the foundation. This assessment means that it is not transmitted through the environment, water or food, but by the exchange of certain fluids, and with certain prevention measures there are no risks. To this is added that the current drugs make the viral load of these patients become undetectable and thus, non-transferable.
This is no longer the unknown and deadly virus that was in the 80s and 90s. In February, the BOE published the end of the exclusion to apply for public employment for this and other medical causes, approved by the Council of Ministers three months before. Many rules, however, are still anchored in the past, which leads to discrimination. And there are framed the protocols of the residences and day centers, a situation, which with the celebration this Sunday of the International Day of the Fight against AIDS and in the thematic year Seniors Without Wardrobes: History, Struggle and Memory!, it is appropriate to highlight. The first diagnosed who survived are reaching an age when they need such care and the problem takes on an increasingly large scale, which administrations have begun to address.
In a conference of the State Coordinator of HIV and AIDS (Cesida), held in September and in which the matter was addressed, the director of the National Plan on AIDS, Julia del Amo, confirmed that "the exclusion in residential centers of people with HIV is due to a misunderstanding of the infectious disease category. " "It will only be transmitted in a residence if there is an unprotected sex. It is not transmitted by eating or drinking together, "he added. A month later, the Ministry of Health left the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System with the commitment to adapt the requirements for access to these services to avoid vetoes.
"It will only be transmitted in a residence if there is an unprotected sexual relationship. It is not transmitted by eating or drinking together."
That institutional statement to Victor Martinez did not catch him again. As president of Avacos-H, he had attended that complaint of the patient rejected by a concerted residence. Under the umbrella of Calcsicova, the Coordinator of Associations for the Fight against AIDS of the Valencian Community, had met with the General Directorate of Social Services of the Generalitat and not only achieved a place for that man, but also achieved that in April an instruction was issued in line with what was subsequently established in the Interterritorial Council.
"It is a very positive measure but now the most important thing is to implement it," said Juan Diego Ramos last Friday during an act to commemorate December 1. The HIV coordinator of the State Federation of Lesbians, Gais, Trans and Bisexuals demanded urgent measures to guarantee the correct socio-health care of people in a situation of special vulnerability: “These are trans women and gay and bisexual men who suffer the consequences of the very high toxicity of the first medications and premature aging, as well as emotional dramas such as family rejection, the duel for the death of friends due to the virus and social and labor discrimination due to stigma ”.
"We have advanced, but it is an instruction, not a norm," says Federico Armenteros; an instruction that also does not concern the private sector. Its foundation, specializing in LGTBI seniors, is building what will be the The world's first residence for this public collective. Owned by the Community of Madrid and planned for mid-2020, the entity will manage an installation with 62 places for continuous stays and 15 in the day center. In it, no one will be asked if he or she has HIV because "it is one more disease and a problem for everyone with their doctor."
"Many norms do not reflect on the new reality"
The Legal Clinic is an information service that a group of law professors and students of the University of Alcalá de Henares provides to people with disabilities or chronic illness. They are also the ones who manage the program offered by Cesida with legal guidance aimed at the field of HIV and health inequalities that occur due to infection.
Should we inform the residence that there is HIV? The medical certificate must be presented and collected if the person has an infectious disease. But in no case do you have to specify which one. Putting it in violation of article 18 of the Constitution.
What can a senior do who is discriminated against? In 2018, the Consumers and Users Law was amended to avoid discrimination against people with HIV, but if it happens you have to go through the courts and there are people who do not have resources.
And you win? We do not know cases on judicialized residences but in the access to a job and they were lost. Discrimination was not considered because there was an application of the standard. Although the rule was discriminatory.
Do they work to change? Yes. We build arguments for associations to put pressure on and change the rules. Many are from the 80s or 90s and do not reflect on the new reality of HIV.