For Respectful Burials of People living with HIV in the Republic of Serbia
In the end of 2019, USOP (Union of organisations of people living with HIV and AIDS in Serbia), an AAE member organisation, asked for our support to stop the disrespectful treatment of the remains of people with HIV in their country. USOP pointed out that people with HIV who passed away were buried without their clothes in black plastic bags.
In a letter (see below) to the Serbian Minister of Health, the Minister of Justice, the Commissioner for Protection of Equality and to the respective Ombudsman, AAE called on stopping this practice immediately since there is no need for taking this precaution and it unnecessarily fuels HIV related discrimination and stigma.
In the past few months, the discriminatory practice of burial of PLHIV gained a lot of public attention. For me this case is above all a reflection of bureaucratic mindset which is often a characteristics of civil servants in my country. The Regulation on burying of people with infectious diseases was enacted and also applied on PLHIV although it is not possible to spread the virus after death and either willingly or unwillingly endanger someone's health. HIV is an infection but different from plague in terms of possibility of spreading the infection through body remains.
Branislav Princip, the President of Nova+
The Serbian Commissioner for Protection of Equality instantly answered our inquiry, stating that they submitted their concerns to the Serbian MoH in order to change the practice. Please find the communication here. Together with the Serbian NGOs we will closely monitor the developments in the Republic of Serbia in accordance to our mission to fight stigma and discrimination. We are determined to ensure respect and dignity for all people living with/or affected by HIV/AIDS and beyond and will inform you about the further development here.
Branislav Princip from the NGO Nova+, adds "Everyone has the right to a dignified funeral and with such an interpretation of the regulation, human rights of PLHIV are threatened. HIV status of a person is made public posthumously. My organization and other PLHIV activists in Serbia hope that this Regulation will be removed as soon as possible and we are grateful to AAE for their involvement and support."