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New study highlights stigma and stress of living with HIV/AIDS in Serbia
Date:11/26/2007

ugs, and that both drugs and monitoring tests were in short supply. They reported feeling anxious at these perceived failings. Serbia and Montenegro is a transitional state, and the underlying context of uncertainty - politically, economically and due to possible future conflict - is seen as a threat to accessing HIV treatment.

One respondent commented: 'It's very depressing you know to go there and to wait so many hours and every time is the same fear, will there be some medicines or not. I'm living with this fear'. Another spoke of being ostracised and abused by neighbours. One interviewee reported how his family had also suffered since his diagnosis; his fathers house, which had previously always been full of visitors, was now always empty, as people were afraid to visit.

Sarah Bernays comments: People living with HIV/AIDS in Serbia and Montenegro perceive that access to continuous, appropriate treatment is insecure and that this, coupled with high levels of stigma, is having a negative impact on their quality of life. People are using up all their energy, both physical and mental, in trying to access treatment, which means they dont have the time or the inclination to participate in HIV support services or engage in community mobilisation. In these circumstances, it is questionable whether HIV/AIDS can be described as a manageable chronic illness.

The authors describe how there have actually been significant improvements, in the continuity of supply, particularly in Serbia, during the course of the study, but that the perception persists amongst PHLIV that access is insecure which means that trust has been damaged and people remain afraid.

The authors are calling for more robust contingency strategies to be put in place, so that countries can be better prepared in the event of treatment shortages. They suggest that regional procurement coalitions, which are South Eastern Europe context-specific, could be set up, and that NG
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Contact: Gemma Howe
gemma.howe@lshtm.ac.uk
020-792-72802
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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