The right to tre­at­ment

Siegessaeule - - Hiv -

Ma­ny re­fu­gees ha­ve ve­ry li­mi­ted know­ledge about HIV and sa­fer sex. In re­s­pon­se, in­sti­tu­ti­ons such as the Ber­li­ner AIDS-Hil­fe ha­ve great­ly ex­pan­ded their ef­forts con­cerning preven­ti­on. The­re are ot­her is­su­es to tack­le too: The ci­ty al­so wel­co­mes im­mi­grants from so-cal­led “sa­fe“EU coun­tries who aren’t eli­gi­b­le for pu­b­lic he­alth­ca­re li­ke asyl­um see­kers are, mea­ning they get de­nied ac­cess to HIV tre­at­ment > About on­ce a week, Ser­giu Gri­mal­schi (pic­tu­red, op­po­si­te pa­ge) vi­sits the ci­ty’s cen­tral ar­ri­val fa­ci­li­ty for asyl­um see­kers. The so­ci­al wor­ker and re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ve for mi­gra­ti­on at the Ber­li­ner AIDS­Hil­fe (BAH) has a bleak mis­si­on: Spot­ting people who­se AIDS-re­la­ted ill­ness has be­co­me so se­ve­re that just one glan­ce is enough to know that ur­gent ca­re is nee­ded. Ti­me af­ter ti­me, he brings af­fec­ted re­fu­gees strai­ght to the ho­s­pi­tal. Asi­de from this, Ser­giu sees a gre­at need for ac­tion amongst all re­fu­gees – ones who may be in good he­alth but don’t know about in­fec­tion and sa­fer sex. Eu­ro­peans may be as­to­nis­hed to le­arn that AIDS is not a ma­jor con­cern in Sy­ria: Third-par­ty sour­ces esti­ma­te on­ly 5,000 people in the ent­i­re coun­try ha­ve it. “Preven­ti­on amongst re­fu­gees is a ve­ry im­portant task for us,“says Ser­giu, thin­king of the young gay men who co­me to Ber­lin and face high-risk sce­na­ri­os un­ar­med with know­ledge. Asi­de from ignoran­ce about the vi­rus, the­re is ano­ther is­sue: In most of their coun­tries of ori­gin, ho­mo­se­xua­li­ty is eit­her il­le­gal, or at the ve­ry least, high­ly stig­ma­ti­zed. Ser­giu rea­li­zes that of their own vo­li­ti­on, ve­ry few re­fu­gees will co­me to the BAH for coun­se­ling or tes­ting. “We need to be on the of­fen­si­ve,“ex­plains the ex­pe­ri­en­ced so­ci­al wor­ker, him­s­elf a mi­grant who ca­me to Ber­lin from Ro­ma­nia 25 ye­ars ago. Being proac­tive me­ans, for ex­amp­le, that Ser­giu and his co­wor­kers (ma­ny of whom are vol­un­te­ers), tar­get ac­com­mo­da­ti­ons whe­re sing­le young men re­si­de. Wi­thout ad­dres­sing “ho­mo­se­xua­li­ty“by na­me, BAH in­vi­tes re­fu­gees to co­me over for ca­su­al con­ver­sa­ti­ons with the mes­sa­ge: Ta­ke ca­re of your­sel­ves! Ano­ther as­pect of Ser­giu’s work is dea­ling with mi­grants with HIV and AIDS, eit­her from EU coun­tries or from ot­her coun­tries that ha­ve be­en de­cla­red “sa­fe“and are the­re­fo­re ex­clu­ded from the asyl­um pro­cess. In con­trast to of­fi­ci­al­ly re­co­gni­zed asyl­um see­kers, all ot­her re­fu­gees ha­ve no claim to pu­b­lic he­alth­ca­re. “Jobless EU ci­ti­zens, un­do­cu­men­ted re­si­dents, for­mer tou­rists, ex-con­victs – they all fall th­rough the cracks, and, af­ter a few ye­ars wi­thout any me­di­cal ca­re, their li­ves are in se­rious dan­ger,“he ex­plains. The BAH has re­spon­ded by of­fe­ring coun­se­ling, ma­king su­re the staff can pro­vi­de ser­vice in as ma­ny lan­gua­ges as pos­si­ble. “We try to find a path toward le­ga­liza­t­i­on for every in­di­vi­du­al, stay­ing by their si­des du­ring that dif­fi­cult ti­me wi­thout he­alth­ca­re.“With their new ef­forts in mo­ti­on, the BAH is eager to em­pha­si­ze that no­bo­dy co­mes to Ger­ma­ny just to get AIDS tre­at­ment. Whi­le En­g­land, Spain and Fran­ce of­fer HIV tre­at­ment to ever­yo­ne re­gard­less of re­si­dence sta­tus, Ger­ma­ny has stric­ter re­gu­la­ti­ons. The BAH has long be­en ur­ging the sta­te to chan­ge. On that no­te, Ser­giu doe­sn’t sug­ar­coat: “We look for­ward to the day when, in a sup­po­sed­ly up­stan­ding coun­try as Ger­ma­ny, we no lon­ger ha­ve to be as­ha­med that people are dy­ing, just be­cau­se they and their ill­ness we­ren’t part of the plan.“< Trans­la­ti­on: jh

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