The new lepers. HIV-positive people are treated as social outcasts while the government fails to cope.
More and more people in Belarus are finding themselves in her position – 50 or 60 new HIV cases are recorded every month. At the beginning of August, the number of people carrying the virus reached 5,150, and experts fear that the figure will be more than double that in 2005. More worryingly, some say the recorded figures should be multiplied by a factor of three or more since they fail to capture drug users who have not been seen by the health authorities. Although HIV and AIDS are advancing rapidly, neither the government nor society in general appear able to come to terms with it. A survey conducted jointly by the United Nations and the Centre for Sociological and Political Research in Minsk found that three quarters of the people polled thought people with HIV should not be allowed to care for their own children, and more than 40 per cent said they should not be allowed to travel around the country or choose where they want to live. (excerpt)