Effect Measure

Iranian HIV doctors victims of witch hunt

Last week we alerted you to a gross miscarriage of justice involving two doctors in Iran. Many of you responded by calling the Mission of Iran at the UN and signing a petition. I wish I could report good news in this update, but so far what we have heard is not encouraging. From an email from Physicians for Human Rights USA:

I wanted to send you an urgent update on the case of Drs Kamiar and Arash Alaei. We still do not have a verdict in the case, but have released a press statement this evening in response to reports out of Iran today that are very troubling. A spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary has stated that 4 Iranians have been charged with seeking to overthrow the Iranian government. This is the first public announcement of the charges since the trial on December 31. Reliable sources indicate that Drs Kamiar and Arash Alaei are two of the four Iranians mentioned. PHR believes these charges are illegitimate and urge the release of Kamiar and Arash.

As in the case of the Tripoli 6, this case is becoming an international cause célèbre in the science community:

Over the last week, more than 2,000 people from around the globe contacted the Iranian Mission to the UN in New York City, demanding the Alaeis? release. In addition 3,100 doctors, nurses and public health workers from 85 countries have signed an online petition demanding their release, which can be viewed at IranFreeTheDocs.org. Leading physicians and public health specialists and numerous medical and scientific organizations have publicly called for the brothers? release, including HIV/AIDS and health experts luminaries: Global Fund Executive Director Professor Michel Kazatchkine; Partners in Health co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer; 2008 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH; Hossam E. Fadel, MD, of the Islamic Medical Association of North America; 1993 Nobel Laureate in Medicine Sir Richard Roberts PhD, FRS; and Ugandan AIDS pioneer Dr. Peter Mugyenyi.

?This case is just one more example of how under President Ahmadinejad?s administration, Iran?s human rights record has reached new lows? said Joe Amon, Director of the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. ?Ahmadinejad?s presidency has created an intense atmosphere of fear and intimidation felt even by those working on the expansion of HIV/AIDS services.? (PHR Press release)

If you haven’t yet taken action you find out more here and sign the petition here.

Comments

  1. #1 Pete Witzler
    January 15, 2009

    Thanks for covering this important issue. Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk released a statement today expressing his concern about this case. You can view it here:
    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2009-releases/statement-of-support-for-aids-doctors-detained-by-iran.html

    If you are affiliated with an Academic Institution, please ask them to issue statement calling for the release of Drs Kamiar and Arash Alaei

    PHR has created a clearing house of information on the case at http://iranfreethedocs.org

  2. #2 Mohammad Khairul Alam
    January 19, 2009

    AIDS: Dark in Life

    -Mohammad Khairul Alam-
    -Executive Director-
    -Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation-
    -24/3 M. C. Roy Lane-
    -Dhaka-1211, Bangladesh-
    -Email: rainbowngo@gmail.com-
    -Web: http://www.newsletter.com.bd
    -Tell: 880-2-8628908-
    -Mobile: 88-01711344997-

    The Asian HIV/AIDS epidemic is highly dynamic. Though, in the early 1980s when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was becoming significant in the Western Hemisphere and Africa, only a few cases of HIV infection were reported in Asia. The risky behaviour and vulnerability, which promote, fuel and facilitate the rapid transmission of HIV, are present in virtually all countries of the Asian region. Thus, the potential for its further spread is significant. Based on evidence from various causes, behaviours that produce the highest risk of infection in this region are unprotected sex (both heterosexual and homosexual) and needle sharing among intravenous drug users (IDUs). However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Asia took a new turn in the 1990s. It is spreading faster in parts of Asia than in other regions of the world. Some have predicted that the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this region in the twenty-first century could be much worse.

    Trafficking in young girls, children and women is a matter of great concern all over the world. In South Asia, cross-border trafficking, sourcing, transit to destination is a big problem. Even more prevalent is the movement of persons within the countries for exploitation in various forms. There are no definite figures about the number of victims.

    Trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation is the most virulent form in South Asia. Internal displacement due to conflict in some of these countries, poverty and lack of employment opportunities, increase the vulnerabilities to being trafficked.

    AIDS researcher Mr. Anirudha Alam said, “Trafficking & HIV/AIDS is interrelated, especially women and girls are trafficking for use of sexual industry. Most of trafficking girls would face several physical & sexual abuses. When a girl or women newly enrolls a sex industry, she tries to safe herself heard & soul, but most of the time they couldn’t free her.”

    Though this data is not enough to certify the fact, still South Asia is home to one of the largest concentrations of people living with HIV. Female sex workers (FSWs) – as a group – are an important driver of the epidemic. As has been shown in a very recent research involving repatriated FSWs in Nepal, many of the FSWs who have been trafficked are at a significantly higher risk than “average” women of contracting HIV. The Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation conducted a survey that focuses on the attitude, behavior and practice of FSWs in Goalondo Brothel, this study points out that almost 53% of sex workers enter the profession before the age of 20 years, and 30% enter between 20 to 25 years of age, and some of them have been entangled through instigation of the traffickers.

    The spread of HIV/AIDS in Asia is expected to accelerate if Governments fail to act with a sense of urgency, and if preventive action is taken too little or too late. In this regard, the Monitoring the AIDS Pandemic Study has warned that the recent increase in HIV prevalence in specific locations in Asia should be regarded as a serious warning of more widespread epidemics. It is also significant to recognize that HIV/AIDS cases are often underreported. Asia is lacking in providing a comprehensive system of complete range of voluntary counseling with testing (VCT) services. However, governments and some NGOs have developed some VCT centers in several regoin in their countries. Though insufficient in number, the initiative is praiseworthy.

    The risk factors for HIV/AIDS infection is at an upsetting level in Bangladesh. Being a low prevalence country, containing the epidemic in the early stage is very essential. The Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) services for HIV is now acknowledged within the international arena as an efficacious and pivotal strategy for both HIV/AIDS prevention and care. The need for VCT is increasingly compelling as HIV infection rates continue to rise, and many countries recognised the need for their populations to know their sero-status as an important prevention and intervention tool. However, access to VCT services in Bangladesh like many developing countries is limited. Many people are still very reluctant to be tested for HIV. This reluctance is the result of barriers to VCT, which are: stigma, gender inequalities and lack of perceived benefit.

    The consequences of HIV/AIDS can be far-reaching for young people. Not only does HIV disease have terrible consequences for the individual, causing serious illness and eventual death, it has the potential to trigger negative social reactions. Across the world, people with HIV/AIDS routinely experience discrimination, stigmatization and ostracization.

    References: CARE, World Bank, UNAIDS.

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