Due to stigma surrounding their health condition, HIV positive patients are exposed to prejudice which can lead to discrimination and violation of their rights. Complaints we received confirm this – they have been denied health services, have had difficulties in being admitted into a health institution and their right to privacy has been breached. This practice impacts the right to a continuous and high-quality health care, appropriate for such condition and in the patient’s best interest, guaranteed by the Act on the Protection of Patients’ Rights. Given how in these cases it was precisely the HIV status that caused unequal treatment, we warned the responsible institutions that this constitutes discrimination on the ground of health status and recommended additional education for the employees on HIV prevention measures, as well as on the definition, forms and consequences of discrimination. This could prevent similar situations in the future, and consequently judicial procedures, including damages claims.

Further steps need to be taken by the Ministry of Health in order to ensure that HIV positive patients have the same level of health protection as other patients and right to privacy, which is one of the recommendations in the Annual Report of the Ombudswoman for 2019.

The Anti-discrimination Act, in force since 2009, prohibits unequal treatment and mandates Ombudsman as an equality body. Anyone who believes they were discriminated due to their health status, age, nationality, socio-economic status or other grounds listed in the Act, and in the area of health care, labour, employment, education or other area, can file a complaint to us by using one of our contacts.