From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Albanian State Failing those Living With or at Risk of HIV/AIDs

Albania has failed to offer adequate care and treatment to individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS. According to figures published by LGBTI-ERA organisation, 27 patients died in 2018 and 24 in 2019 with many more suffering interruptions to treatment plans or being too scared to ask for help due to fear of stigma and repercussions.

ERa’s Albanian members, Alliance Against Discrimination LGBT and Albanian Association of People Living with HIV/AIDs noted that the authorities are failing to import in a timely manner the necessary drugs to treat thee conditions, which needs to be continuous and uninterrupted. According to the organisations, HIV patients are forced to change their treatments due to not being able to get access to drugs, something that has a devastating impact on their health.

They also noted that Albania lacks an adequate supply of testing its for CD4, viral loads and virus resistance, meaning only some can afford to do expensive testing in private clinics.

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection is not aware of the gravity of the situation and this further perpetuates stigma and prejudice towards those suffering from HIV/AIDs.

While Albania has a low prevalence of the diseases, the death rate is “alarming” according to the report.

On 14 January, the organisations sent an open letter to the Ministry and the international community to ask for immediate action to be taken to secure uninterrupted services. They claim that around 200 people living with AIDs and almost 4000 other high-risk individuals are unable to access services due to delays in the implementation of funding.

The letter stated:

“Under such unacceptable conditions, ERA joins its member organisations as well as all other organisations working with key populations in Albania, in denouncing the total lack of transparency and leadership by the MoHSP and the CCM and the fact that thousands of people from affected key populations are now at the mercy of chance and with a bleak and frightening future ahead of them. 

One would assume that at a time when the world is celebrating the success and efficacy of PrEP, rapid and accessible testing (including self-testing), highly effective antiretroviral treatments, and in an era of super-fast internet and easily accessible information, the Albanian government should at the very least be able to raise awareness, provide basic services to prevent new transmissions and properly treat people living with HIV/AIDS.”