The lonely people of Hanoi's HIV hospital

Thanh Nien News/Zing

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Most patients are abandoned by their families and doctors are themselves shunned as fear of the disease persists


Patients’ families do not crowd the gates of Hospital 09 like at most hospitals in Vietnam.
The hospital has 40 inpatients. Doctors say many patients are not visited by family after they are there for three or four years, sometimes not even for their funerals.
Nguyen Ngoc Hung, who has more than 20 years of experience working with HIV patients, examines a patient with his bare hands and without a mask. “I keep all physical contact within safe limits. I don’t want to create a distance with my patients or show discrimination,” he says. As happens for all staff at the hospital, his acquaintances keep a distance from him.
Hung checks a 29-year-old patient who was infected by her husband, a drug addict who died in 2011. She is expected to go home this week after tests found there was no risk of her spreading tuberculosis to others.
Hung said HIV is hard to spread but not tuberculosis, as most patients at the hospital suffer from severe TB. At least four doctors at the hospital have been infected with TB from their patients.
The hospital treats patients with antiretroviral drugs. All treatment at the hospital is free.
You can find the original Vietnamese story here on Zing.

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