`Some of the HIV positive people attending the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, have complained of various challenges like access to medication, stigma and ill-treatment at health institutions.
Edwin Cameron, South African Constitutional Court Judge, who tested HIV positive in 1986, said on Wednesday in Durban that they are often stigmatised and ostracised by the society.
He said that the stigma is discouraging people from coming out for testing.
Cameron, who has openly disclosed his status said, “HIV positive are victims of hatred, ignorance and fear.
“Some suffer from internal condemnation, shame and disgrace.
“We do not beg for acceptance but demand to be treated as humans as we have that right,” he said.
Maureen Murenga from Kenya said that when she tested positive there was no information on how to survive with the disease.
“I tested positive in 2000 but gave birth to an HIV negative child in 2013.
She said there is no adequate support for the HIV positive.
“There is still forced sterilisation of women in some countries.
“There is still stigma and discrimination. When I tested positive I thought I had few days to live but did not know how I will die.
“I did not know if I will be found dead with children nearby or discovered days after the death. I was afraid,” she said.
Another HIV positive Fikile Boyce, 49, said he faced lots of challenges due to the depletion in funding by donors.
He said the reduction in funding makes it impossible for the civil society and those infected to continue their fight against the disease.
Boyce said there is no proper coordination between healthcare givers and the HIV positive.
“There is some stock outs in some healthcare institutions, resulting in the failure to adhere to treatment.
“Defaulting on our treatment makes us vulnerable to death,” he said.
Boyce said Tuberculosis (TB) has been identified as the major killer of most HIV positive people in South Africa.
He said they wanted TB to be prioritised just like HIV.
The country, he said, should not rely on donors to combat HIV but should have a budget for that.
Boyce said they also fail to access medication at some places and at times.
“At this conference I want government, civil society and donor agencies to come together and implement any resolutions adopted and ensure that there is money for activists to make interventions.
The conference, which started on Monday and would last until Friday, brought together more than 18,000 government officials, scientists, AIDS activists and HIV patients to discuss ways to achieve the goal of eradicating the disease by 2030.