Rights of HIV/AIDs and Cancer Patients in Georgia

18 Jan, 2012

On January 16, the Institute of Social Studies and Analysis unveiled outcomes of the survey ‘Sociological Study of Social, Medical and Legal Status of Palliative and HIV/AIDs Patients’.  The support for the project has been provided by the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF).

The report focuses on patient’s rights.  In particular, it addresses the level of protection of patient’s confidentiality, adherence to the principles of informed consent and citizens’ access to medical services.

Iago Kachkachishvili: ‘The survey was conducted in Tbilisi, Gori, Kutaisi and Batumi. This is a unique survey.  I cannot remember any other study addressing the same subject. As you know, there were two target groups, patients under palliative care (mainly cancer patients) and HIV/AIDs patients.  I would like to thank those people that have helped us get in touch with them as it is difficult to contact the target groups because of confidentiality concerns ‘.

HIV/AIDs and palliative patients were selected as target groups because they have the biggest experience of communication with medical institutions.

 ‘The study will help us clearly see human rights protection gaps in the health care system. It will point to the direction in which we should enhance our patient rights protection efforts. Our choice fell on palliative and HIV/AIDs patients because they use the medical service and face the problem of stigma most often’, said Nino Kiknadze, a representative of the Public Health Program.

The first phase of the survey addressed the rights of patients in need of palliative care.  It is made up of the following components: a) Palliative patients’ (their guardians’) awareness of the specifics of palliative care, their rights and privileges; b) respect of patient rights by medical institutions and medical staff c) the attitude of the public towards patients under palliative care, access to different resources etc.

The second part of the survey focuses on the access to information and adequate treatment as well as stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AID, which leads to other violations of the rights of people infected with HIV.

Key Findings

The survey findings make it clear that:

  • Patients receiving palliative care are mainly middle-aged people;
  • Patients with incurable diseases are basically provided home-based palliative care;
  • There is the problem of poor awareness of patients and their family members.

The survey of HIV/AIDs patients has revealed the following trends:

  • In most cases, the decision on getting an HIV test is made as a result of doctor’s interference (59.5%);
  • In the Centre of Infectious Pathology, AIDS and Clinical Immunology, the HIV/AIDs diagnosis is made in time;
  • Most of the patients in the target group have not felt the need to undergo a serious treatment yet – 45.7% are undergoing treatment outside the hospital, while 14% of patients do not require any medical service at all at this stage. Those who have to stay in hospital are in the third stage of the disease.
  • There are cases when a doctor refuses to treat HIV/AIDs patients or s/he fails to meet safety rules. As a result, the legislation on rights and responsibilities of HIV/AIDs patients is ignored. The situation may improve through increasing public awareness.
  • The level of involvement of patient’s family members in the process of treatment of HIV/AIDs patients is low (11.7%);

There are some access problems in AIDs treatment: some respondents noted that they did not have access to some services (18%, i.e. 72 respondents).  Most of the patients in the group (64 respondents) noted that they did not have access to only one service – psychological service.  22.3% of cancer patients said that they did not have access to chemical and radiation therapy.