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HIV patients face lingering discrimination from doctors

This article is part of Telescope: The New AIDS Epidemic, a deep-dive investigation into the modern ..



This article is part of Telescope: The New AIDS Epidemic, a deep-dive investigation into the modern face of a disease that transformed the world.

Michael Jettmar was facing a problem he didnt expect to have after being diagnosed with HIV: He was struggling to make a dentist appointment.

An activist working for an NGO representing sex workers and living in Prague, Jettmar is required by Czech law to disclose his HIV status — and, it seemed, dentists didnt want his business.

“Every time, the woman at the reception said Ill call you back and ask the doctor if its possible,” he recalled. Each time, the answer was no. Instead, they recommended he visit an HIV center for treatment. One receptionist said it wasnt possible to treat his “kind.”

The process made him feel “dirty,” Jettmar said. He now goes to a town an hour away to get treated. He said he has to take a full day off at work because of the commute.

Jettmars experience highlights an uncomfortable reality for Europeans living with HIV. Decades after treatments were developed allowing those with the virus to live an almost normal life, the stigma attached to the disease persists — even among those charged with keeping people healthy.

Nearly one-third of HIV patients in Europe have reported cases of discrimination from doctors, nurses and other health care workers, according to a 2014 study looking at discrimination against people with HIV in health care.

Christiana Nöstlinger, a social scientist at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp and the studys lead author, notes that discrimination is more likely to occur in “non-HIV specialized settings.”

Its among dentists, gynecologists and primary health care where “people are reluctant to even share their HIV status and disclose because of fear of discrimination,” she added.

Dentists come up often in stories of discrimination.

A survey of HIV-positive people in the Czech Republic, for example, found that 42 percent of respondents said theyd been denied dental care at some point, according to Robert Hejzak, chairman of the board of activist group Czech AIDS Help, which conducted the research.

The stigma also affects vulnerable groups disproportionately. “We see more people with LGBTI background, [as well as] men having sex with men, which are the biggest group, and migrants coming from high endemic regions, who are also confronted by racism,” said Nöstlinger.

Another study, from France, looked at the bias against different vulnerable populations with HIV. It found that women from sub-Saharan Africa reported the highest levels of discrimination. Straight non-African men reported the least.

Go west, young man

In Europe, bias against sexual minorities living with HIV among health care workers is alive and well in the west but is especially prevalent in the east. There, in some cases, more conservative attitudes mingle with the vestiges of the Warsaw Pacts stern and top-down approach to medicine.

The EU-LGBTI II Survey shows, for example, that in Poland, 58 percent of respondents always avoid holding hands in in public with their same-sex partner out of fear of being assaulted, threatened or harassed, closely followed by Romania and Croatia at 57 percent each. By contrast, Nordic countries like Finland and Sweden report 13 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Theres also a lot of ignorance about the virus, said Karol Ludwikowski, a pizzeria employee from Poznan, Polands fifth biggest city. He came out as HIV positive in 2015.

“People — even my friends —began asking me if they could kiss me or touch me,” he said. “To me, that means any education about AIDS has been non-existent. Its been swept under completely. Its laughable and scary at the same time.”

Alex Schneider is the founder of Life4me +, an organization dedicated to battling discrimination and preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Hes also a gay man living with HIV.

As a Russian of German descent, Schneider said he was initially committed to staying in the country where he was born. But he left for Germany in 2002, when he felt the situation was getting difficult to live in.

For him, Germany and Austria are examples of forward-thinking approaches to HIV treatment. As he sees it, the further you go east, the worst discrimination becomes, with Russia at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to treatment of the disease.

Schneider, who gathers instance of discrimination through his organization, said that while complaints from LGBTQ individuals are clustered in the east, its more common in the west for migrants to complain of bias. He said that the situation in Russia is particularly tough, forcing many people living with HIV to lie about their LGBTQ status due to fear of stigma.

“They say I have HIV because of sex with women,'” Schneider explained. “Theyre forced to lie because if you say youre gay … its your fault.”

In the big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg, private, gay-friendly clinics have sprung up. Many LGBTQ people prefer to go there, paying not insignificant sums for their peace of mind, Schneider added.

Soviet legacy

Schneider also points a finger at the legacy of the countrys past approach to health. “The problem of the medical care system in Russia is its still the Soviet system,” Schneider explained. “And in the Soviet system, the doctor is God.”

“You feel like youre a child, and theyre parents,” he said. “They try to show they know better, and they show you that they are better than you because they dont have it. Thats really big pressure.”

“If you also say youre gay, you cant imagine the pressure you get,” he added. “I wouldnt do it, especially in a small city in Russia.”

Hejzak, of Czech AIDS Help, also blames the legacy of the past on the harsh treatment of LGBTQ individuals in his countrys health system. He views laws that require disclosure of HIV status to doctors, even for non-HIV related treatment, as responsible for holding back progress. In many Eastern European countries, these laws are still on the books.

“This is in contrast to Western Europe, which has by and large abolished similar rules,” Hejzak explained. “In Eastern Europe and the Soviet space, theres still this police mentality that you need to control everything, that the patient has no rights.”

While not as bad as Russia, the Czech Republic has its own issues with discrimination against the LGBTQ community, he added.

“None of the doctors publicly admit this … but theres a hidden stigma,” he said. “You can see it from tone that [they think] gay sex is immoral and they deserve it from way they behave.”

The Institute of Tropical Medicines Nöstlinger explained that stigma associated with HIV can Read More – Source

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How does overeating affect the immune system?



Overeating is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. While it is widely understood that excessive eating leads to obesity and other health problems, many people are unaware of the impact that overeating has on the immune system. In this article, we will explore how overeating affects the immune system and what can be done to prevent or mitigate the damage.

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against harmful substances and infections. It is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful pathogens and other invaders that may cause harm to the body. When the body is functioning normally, the immune system works efficiently to keep us healthy. However, when the body is subjected to chronic stress, such as from overeating, it can become weakened, making it less effective at protecting the body against illness and disease.

One of the ways in which overeating affects the immune system is by increasing inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection, but when it becomes chronic, it can have a negative impact on the immune system. Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Another way in which overeating affects the immune system is by altering the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and play a crucial role in maintaining good health. When the body is exposed to a high-fat diet, the balance of gut bacteria can become disrupted, leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and the suppression of beneficial bacteria. This can result in decreased gut function and reduced immune function, making it more difficult for the body to protect itself against harmful pathogens.

In addition, overeating can also lead to obesity, which is a major risk factor for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Obesity is associated with a range of physiological changes, including insulin resistance and the release of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that play a crucial role in the immune response. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of cytokines, it can lead to a state of chronic inflammation, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

Finally, overeating can also affect the immune system by causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to an excessive amount of free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to cells and tissues. When the body is constantly exposed to high levels of glucose and other harmful substances as a result of overeating, it can lead to oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illness.

In conclusion, overeating can have a profound impact on the immune system. By increasing inflammation, altering the gut microbiome, causing obesity, and inducing oxidative stress, overeating can weaken the body’s ability to protect itself against harmful pathogens and other invaders. To maintain a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and avoid overeating. By taking these simple steps, you can help protect your immune system and reduce your risk of illness and disease.

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Homelessness and mental illness are two intertwined issues that have a complex relationship. Homelessness can cause or worsen mental illness and, conversely, mental illness can contribute to homelessness. It is a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape, and it is important to understand the ways in which these two issues are interconnected.

Homelessness can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Living on the streets can be a traumatic experience, with a constant fear of violence, theft, and disease. Homeless individuals often face stigma, discrimination, and a lack of privacy, which can lead to feelings of shame, hopelessness, and isolation. The stress and unpredictability of homelessness can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mental illness, on the other hand, can also contribute to homelessness. Mental illness can make it difficult for individuals to maintain employment, manage their finances, and maintain stable housing. Individuals with mental illness may struggle with accessing treatment and support, and the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness can also contribute to feelings of shame and isolation. These challenges can lead to a cycle of homelessness and mental illness, where each issue exacerbates the other.

There is a need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness and mental illness. This includes providing safe and stable housing, access to mental health treatment and support, and addressing the underlying social determinants of health that contribute to homelessness, such as poverty, lack of education and job opportunities.

Housing First, a program that prioritizes providing permanent housing to homeless individuals before addressing any other issues, has been shown to be effective in reducing homelessness and improving mental health outcomes. This approach recognizes that stable housing is a critical foundation for addressing other issues, including mental health.

In conclusion, homelessness and mental illness are complex and interrelated issues that require a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address. Providing stable housing and access to mental health treatment and support is critical for breaking the cycle of homelessness and mental illness and improving outcomes for individuals experiencing these issues. It is important to continue to address the root causes of homelessness, including poverty and lack of access to education and employment opportunities, to reduce the prevalence of homelessness and improve outcomes for those experiencing it.

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Improving Reception For Children With Cancer – Basque Family Support Association



The association “Tous avec Agosti” wants 2023 to rhyme with new dynamics. For nine years now, the structure has been working to welcome families of hospitalized children in Bayonne. Since 2018, 47 families have been able to find some respite in an apartment in Anglet.

Apartment in Anglet

Since she has benefited from an apartment in Anglet, the association “Tous avec Agosti” has enabled nearly 50 families of patients hospitalized at the Center Hospitalier de la Côte Basque to stay close to their loved ones. This represents 600 overnight stays, 47 families from 23 departments and even from Belgium and Spain. At the beginning of 2023, the structure has just had its prefectural approval renewed and sees things big.

“We have been working in our area for years,” notes Frédéric de Arroyave, the association’s president, but “in 2023, we will show ourselves much more, on the markets for example, but also in acts. The apartment we have in Anglet is a haven of peace for families going through terrible times, but for some it is difficult to access”. The apartment is located on the alleys of the Jardins d’Arcadie, near Biarritz – Pays Basque airport. We want to get closer to the Bayonne hospital.

The association “Tous avec Agosti” was born in 2015. Agosti, 10 years old, is suffering from cancer and taken care of at Bordeaux hospital for 6 months. His father, Frédéric de Arroyave, living in Ahetze, has the possibility of integrating a parents’ house and can stay with his child. Such a structure did not exist in Bayonne, so he launched the project and the association which lives today thanks to donations from contributors and the dozen (very) active volunteers. Each year, approximately 4,000 children are hospitalized in Bayonne.

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