HIV patients are discriminated against - TAC
KHAYELITSHA residents and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) say the township's community health centres are discriminating against people living with Aids and stigmatising the disease
Sowetan this week visited community health centres and found out that people living with Aids and TB patients were separated from other patience.
An employee at the Michael Mapongwana Community Health Centre said the building was extended last year to include a new section for TB patients and people living with Aids.
He also said some people had viewed the situation as discrimination, adding that they were treated differently.
Resident Siphokazi Mtshoniswa said many HIV-people or people living with Aids felt bad about the situation and wanted to mix with the rest of other people.
HIV-positive Mtshoniswa, 40, who gets her ARV treatment at the Site B Community Health Centre, said: "Many people have complained that they are being discriminated against. Our files are also written "ARVs", so that it should be known that we are HIV positive or have full-blown Aids."
Mtshoniswa, a mother of four children, said she became aware of her status after she consulted a doctor in June last year.
Loyiso Mahomba, deputy chairperson of the TAC in Khayelitsha, said he understood the reasons for different sections for people living with Aids or TB patients.
"But the situation reinforces the stigma, discrimination and wrong perceptions about people living with Aids. We also understand that there are issues such as confidentially, privacy and infectious diseases such as TB."
Mahomba, whose organisation promotes HIV and Aids treatment at community health centres, said he did not think the situation will change because of overcrowding.
He added that many workers were losing their jobs in Western Cape because they were HIV positive or had full-blown Aids.
"We are very concerned about the problem. Many HIV-positive workers do not get support from their co-workers and employers," Mahomba said.
Western Cape health MEC Theuns Botha said the historical situation of separate TB clinics has some infection control basis as well. "It would not generally be a good thing for patients with TB to sit in the same waiting areas as healthy babies (for example)," Botha said.
The addition of ART clinics necessitated new infrastructure, as this represented a whole new cohort of patients.
These new buildings were integrated with TB clinics and there were great areas of overlap between these two illnesses, with co-infection rates being high.
"We have been informed that the increased visibility contributes significantly to destigmatisation," Botha said.
He added that when attending the hospital for other issues (antenatal care, chronic disease management, casualty, etc), these patients mixed freely with other patients.