Gulnaz Mamatova: “Poor awareness of HIV gives rise to absurd rumors, but SGLA helps us dispel them”

“The more I talk with people, the more I am convinced that they are ill-informed of HIV-positive people in Kyrgyzstan” – one of the participants in the Issyk-Kul workshop training on SGLA Gulnaz Mamatova told us, who is the head of the Public Association “Krik Zhuravlya” protecting the rights of people with HIV in Osh Province. She told that the State guaranteed legal aid (SGLA) helped greatly fight against the arbitrary behavior of law enforcement and judicial bodies with regard to such citizens: 

– I can say that it is very important for us to cooperate with the State guaranteed legal aid programme, since people with HIV, especially in the South of the country, very often face misunderstanding. Even their relatives and friends try to communicate with them less. In this situation, a person very often self-isolates and remains alone with his problem.

– Can you say how an HIV-positive person starts getting out of depression and loneliness and returns to a normal life?

– Certainly, from realizing the fact that he can live long with this disease and have a full-quality life –  have almost any job, have a family and give birth to quite healthy children, go in for sports. It is enough only to take timely and regularly special drugs that are provided for free.  

– How, in your viewpoint, can the attitude to such people be changed?

– First of all, it is necessary to understand the inconsistency of the common stereotype engrained in public consciousness since the eighties of the last century that HIV is a kind of “the Grim Reaper”, allegedly a fatal diagnosis. Here, I hope, our mass media and posters that we post on social networks will help us. I can say that over the past two or three years, the public attitude to the immunodeficiency syndrome problem has noticeably changed for the better. But, the more I talk with people, the more I am convinced that, unfortunately, they are not still fully aware of HIV. And ignorance, as everybody knows, gives rise to absurd rumors.

– You have mentioned that the HIV-positive people can give birth to quite healthy children. Do you have such parents among your clients?

– I know, for example, one such mother, who gave birth already to the fourth child. Neither of her children has the immunodeficiency virus detected.

– In what way does the State guaranteed legal aid help you eradicate a false stereotype of HIV?

– Unfortunately, until recently the HIV-positive people have been subject to the so-called stigma mostly in law enforcement and judicial bodies. Many judges and officers from law enforcement bodies still keep a false judgement that a person with an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a kind of a leper and “a discard of society”.  Communicating with law enforcement officers and lawyers through SGLA, our partners and we teach them gradually to change their attitude to such citizens as it is done throughout the civilized world. I would like to express my profound gratitude to this programme and its partners –  the UNDP and MFA of Finland project “Towards a sustainable access to justice for legal empowerment in the KR” that they contribute to improvement of the moral and psychological environment in our society.

An interviewer is Andrei Tokombaev

Кыргызчасы: Гульназ Маматова: «ВИЧ туурасында билбөө туура эмес имиштерди жаратат, бирок МКЮЖ бизге аларды жок кылууга жардам берет»

На русском: Гульназ Маматова: «Незнание о ВИЧ рождает нелепые слухи, но ГГЮП помогает нам их развеять»

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