According to December 31, 2004 figures by the Health Ministry, there are 1,371 porters of AIDS, and 551 AIDS patients in Turkey. That makes a total of 1,922 people with AIDS.
December 1 is World AIDS Day. The AIDS Fight Association has launched a campaign called, "Red Awakening" with the aim of correctly informing the public about struggle against the disease and prevention methods. Professor Selim Badur, the head of the Association, who spoke at the press conference to launch the program, said the social side of AIDS is of increasing importance. "AIDS makes a very good distinction between rich and poor," said Badur. "Only 4 percent of those infected by AIDS in developing countries get treatment."
According to the 2005 World AIDS report by the World Health Organization (WHO), singleing out and discrimination arising from fear is specified as the primary factor which sabotages the fight with AIDS.
Badur: "AIDS is increasingly becoming the disease of the poor."
Prof. Badur argued that AIDS is increasingly becoming the disease of the outskirts, the poor, and those who do not have access to information and treatment. According to Badur, 80 percent of the patients don't even know which disease killed them.
Badur said that the business and art circles in Western countries support the fight against AIDS but added that they do not receive such a support in Turkey. "In Turkey, nobody wants their names to be mentioned together with AIDS," he said.
Badur said that they will focus on discrimination against AIDS patients in the activities they organize this year.
Badur underlined the fact that some healthcare workers still don't know the disease and that there are healthcare institutions and personnel who discriminate against patients. He announced that training programs will be held in 19 healthcare institutions in Istanbul in the coming days.
Demirer: "AIDS is not absolute death."
"I went through serious traumas," said Demirer, who lost his wife and daughter because of AIDS. "But I didn't give up fighting AIDS. I want to show people that AIDS is not absolute death, and that patients can live long years with systematic treatment. I want to set an example for people. I owe my healthy condition to systematic treatment and check-ups."
Demirer stated that the discrimination arising from prejudices in the society make the lives of HIV porters difficult. He added that lack of adequate knowledge among healthcare workers result in them being deprived of medical intervention in cases which require dental treatment or operations.
Demirer remarried five years ago. "My wife is not a porter. We have safe sex. As you can see, being an HIV porter does not prevent people from getting married," said Demirer.
Demirer has also written a book called "Living with HIV" on his struggle against the disease. (KO/EK/EA/YE)
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