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Letters from Egypt: HIV/AIDS, testimonials of stigma and discrimination (in Arabic)
Between your hands are the stories of several Egyptians who have suffered the stigma associated with living with HIV/AIDS. They are ordinary citizens who have lived among us, speaking about their emotional and psychological suffering - as if the infection was not sufficient agony in itself. Here we present people who have been exposed to daily to stigma and discrimination, be it by neighbors, friends, police officers, religious figures, or even doctors. They have become outcasts in their own society because of the prevailing stereotypes about people living with the virus. Since changing longstanding attitudes and perceptions is much harder than giving in to the reality of the situation, we have resolved -- as members of organizations that support and offer legal, social and healthcare services to those living with HIV/AIDS -- to build a forum to combat stigma and discrimination. This book represents the beginning of that collaborative effort. We have collected stories about different members of society living with HIV/AIDS, some of whom have faced difficulties and managed to overcome them, and some whose suffering continues. If through these narratives we have documented several cases of morally questionable behavior, then our aim here is to involve the wider public in repairing the suffering we have caused -- whether intentionally or due to ignorance -- to those living with HIV/AIDS. In light of Egypt's recent popular revolution, which will hopefully lead to the termination of longstanding policies that for years had infringed on individuals' rights and dignity, it is now time to restore the right of all people living with HIV/AIDS to live a life free from stigma and discrimination. We call upon you, the reader, to join us in this endeavor.
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