Q and A

Question

What can I do if I am HIV positive living in the Middle-East?

My situation is very complicated. One-time sex caused me to be HIV positive a year ago.

But I don’t live in my own country because of civil war and I live in the (Middle East) where I think they will deport me once they know i have HIV. I am sure there is no country in the world will accept me with my condition. My monthly income is almost 1000 dollar – what are my choices here for medication? what can i do ?

i tested outside the country and where i tested the medication was so expensive? i just wanna know what to do … shall i just give up? Is there any hope? I can’t look the people who i love in the eye .. am highly depressed and i think i cant live like this anymore.

Answer

Hi

Thanks for writing – and for letting us post the answer online.

Although I don’t have easy answers to all your questions, the following information might help you sort out a plan for the future that is more positive and hopeful.

In general, HIV treatment is now available in every country in the world. So even in countries whether HIV policies are not good, doctors will be providing treatment – either publicly or privately. So some people in the country you are living in will be getting HIV treatment.

Immigration status can be very different in different countries though. Some countries in the Middle-East do not let HIV positive visitors stay but others are better. The community website HIVtravel.org has infromation by each country and is a good place to start. As you didn’t say which country you are in, I can’t give more specific information.

If it turns out that the country has a policy that would make you leave, then in the long term, this is not a good place to make your new life. In the short-term though you can find a way to manage better, especially as it sounds like you are working and have an income that lets you travel.

So one option might be to find a doctor in a country you can easily travel to, who can monitor your health. Did you have a CD4 count and.or viral load test and do you know these results?

As you were only recently infected, your body might be controlling HIV well without meds, for example if your CD4 count is still higher than 500 cells/mm3. Although HIV treatment (called ART) is generally recommenced for everyone, in your circumstances, if you and your doctor might decide that monitoring is okay until you can find a way to get treatment.

If your CD4 count is much lower though, then HIV treatment is more important and your choice is either to get meds outside the country and travel make with them or to more to a country where your HIV status is respected and you have better rights. I know of different people who have tried both options – and I know neither is easy or perfect.

In the longer term, nearly everyone who is HIV positive will need treatment, but this treatment now is very good. It is also much cheaper in many low-income countries – perhaps only costing $100 a year. It is also free in some high-income countries, even when the meds are much more expensive. For example, in the UK HIV treatment is free to anyone – even if they are not permanent residents.

Also for the long-term, HIV meds can mean you life a long and healthy life and they stop HIV from being a risk for your partners. These changes are really important reasons to be positive. We just needs to slowly work ou a plan for your long-term health so that you can benefit from this.

If you would like to write back in confidence, and anonymously, please either post a comment below or write send another meal to: questions@i-base.org.uk

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