Thanks to an interpreter, Juan said that although now he assumes his diagnoses normally, at the beginning it was a hassle. He had been suffering from severe headaches, nausea, and diarrhea and had lost much weight; his mother decided to take him to a hospital in the western area of El Salvador. The doctor on duty asked his mother to take him to get tested for hiv in clinic of comprehensive hiv care.
John said he was taken into a room where a person “tried” to explain to him with signs and drawings what the hiv was, and showed him some condoms, then he went to the clinical laboratory to get tested. After two hours, he returned to the same room and the same person who told him about HIV and condoms was nervous in front of him.
John says: “The women didn’t know how to explain to me what HIV was”. Although we were missing the confirmatory test, the health staff was giving a positive diagnosis and did not know how to deal with it; without tools to communicate in sign language, they disclosed his diagnosis to his mother, violating his right to privacy.
The following day, Juan went to the hospital and he was helped by a specialist in sign language of the Instituto Salvadoreño de Rehabilitación Especial, who informed him, with support of the Counselor, his positive diagnosis and the steps that he would need to take.
“People with disabilities face a range of obstacles that limit our access to prevention and hiv treatment. We are often excluded from education in sexual and reproductive health services because the population incorrectly assumes that we are not sexually active; information rarely occurs in a way that is easy to understand or use for people with hearing and visual impairments or with mental or intellectual disabilities”, said Lucy Sánchez, a woman with a visual impairment, a psychologist and coordinator of the HIV in the National Civil Police.
It is necessary the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the PEN 2016-2020, which is about to be developed, to ensure people like Juan with tools to prevent infection, understand the diagnosis and ensure adherence to treatment, in this way achieving the goal of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths from AIDS in El Salvador.