For HIV-positive Egyptians, it’s either adapt or die.
The nonprofit advocacy group Ta3yosh, or “Adapting”, believes society should adapt with them. The group launched a series of plays this month that aim to raise awareness about the lives of people suffering from HIV/AIDS and the discrimination they face in society and, in particular, the healthcare system.
The first play, performed Tuesday at the Jesuit Theatre in downtown Cairo, presented ten monologues based on real stories of patients suffering from the disease, who had been mistreated by friends, neighbours and the Egyptian healthcare system. The play was titled “Disease is Not a Charge” and was directed by Shady Abdallah.
In one monologue, a young actor told the story of a man who was mistreated by the doctors and nurses responsible for his case after he was diagnosed. Another woman caught the disease from her husband, who died. When word spread, people started avoiding her.
In another case, doctors told a man who was being treated from heart problems to “get out” and “go die at home” after he tested positive for HIV. “We don’t perform operations on patients with HIV,” the doctor said.
An HIV patient in the audience, who requested anonymity, said the theatrical show was “an actual imitation of the reality” of living with the disease. He said he hopes the show will spread awareness and help ease the load on HIV-positive Egyptians.
Amal Mohamed, general coordinator of Ta3yosh, said the campaign aims to eliminate the societal stigma against people living with the virus.
To raise awareness about the medical rights of patients diagnosed with HIV, the campaign is coordinating with the National AIDs Programme in Egypt to organise conferences for doctors and nurses. The campaign is also working with the Ministry of Health, the Doctors Syndicate and hospitals to improve access to health care for the HIV/AIDs patients.