Cyprus Mail

‘No room at the inn’, or clinic, for HIV tourist

By Evie Andreou

THE HEALTH ministry and the Medial Association (CyMA) have launched investigations into claims that a British tourist who is HIV positive was denied medical care and hospitality while on holidays in Paphos.

The tourist was reportedly asked to leave the hotel he was staying after word got out he was an HIV carrier and he was also unable to find new lodgings. He was also allegedly refused treatment by private clinics.

According to the head of the board of the HIV/AIDS Support Centre Stella Michaelidou, the events took place at the beginning of the month. The tourist, while on holiday, was slightly injured when he felt dizzy and fell over, and was transferred to a private clinic by his travel agent. He duly informed the attending staff that he was HIV positive.

But after he had his wounds tended to, Michaelidou said, the tourist was caught by surprise when he was told by the hotel he was staying that they could no longer host him.

“A doctor from the clinic, called the hotel the injured man was staying, and informed them of his condition. This is a breach of medical confidentiality,” she said.

But the man’s adventure did not stop there. While his travel agent was trying to find him another hotel to stay at, word got out of his condition, and several hotels in the area, also refused to host him, she said.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the man was also refused treatment by other private clinics in the area to which he and his travel agent had gone to for help, after he started feeling unwell again.

“He was first taken to the Paphos General Hospital where they took his blood pressure and released him, because they said he did not need to be admitted. But because he continued to feel dizzy, the travel agent tried to take him to several private practices where he was turned away,” Michaelidou said.

In the end, one hotel in the same district took the man in and also arranged for a doctor to examine him, she said.

During the tourist’s ordeal, the travel agent was in constant communication with Michaelidou, who later reported the events to the health ministry and the CyMA.

The Cyprus Hotels Association PASYXE said on Monday it had no information on the specific case.

The head of the association’s Paphos district committee, Themis Filippides, told the Cyprus Mail that he doesn’t believe any establishment that asked a tourist to leave was a hotel and that as far as he was aware no hotels in the area had turned down the man’s request for hospitality.

“We have no such information. According to my information, he did not ask to be taken to any other hotels. We don’t know the exact details at the moment, but of course if this happened it is reprehensible,” he said.

The tourist has since returned home.

The health ministry said in an announcement it had requested a report of events and has also asked the Superintendent of Private Hospitals, Dr Petros Matsas to launch an investigation into the reports that a that any medical facility refused hospitalisation to a patient.

It also called the CyMA to launch an investigation for allegedly unethical behavior by doctors.

“As regards the reports that a patient was subjected to unethical and improper conduct at medical centres of the Republic, the health ministry stresses in an unambiguous manner that if such attitudes and behavior exist, they constitute a flagrant violation of medical ethics, medical confidentiality and the due respect to the individual’s personality and personal data,” the announcement said.

“Each of us and above all medical and paramedical personnel who perform the service of unrestricted provision of health services to all, without exception, must respect the privacy of every individual. Actions based on racist attitudes hark back to darker days, they honour no one and have no place in the health care sector or in society,” the announcement said.

The head of the CyMA’s ethics committee Dr Vassos Economou said that the health ministry’s urgings aside, they had already launched an investigation into all claims to establish if there had been unethical behaviour on the part of any doctors.

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