Man with HIV sues Turkish Red Crescent after 21 years

Man with HIV sues Turkish Red Crescent after 21 years

Banu Şen – İZMİR
Man with HIV sues Turkish Red Crescent after 21 years

A 21-year-old Turkish man who was infected with HIV through a blood transfusion at birth has sued the Turkish Red Crescent.

The man was infected with HIV after receiving tainted blood from the Turkish Red Crescent in 1996 in the Aegean province of İzmir.

He said he purposely chose Dec. 1 World AIDS Day to take legal action.

"I lived 21 years with discrimination. My future has always been uncertain. I don’t even know if I will ever have a family. I cannot work anywhere. I’m all alone. This was not my fault. They have to help me. I will sue them [Turkish Red Crescent] on World AIDS Day to send a message,” he said.

The young man’s family had previously filed a lawsuit for mental anguish, with a court ruling that the Turkish Red Crescent and the Health Ministry pay 948,000 Turkish Liras in compensation as well as cover life-long treatment costs.

His lawyer, Mehmet Emin Keleş, said they would demand material compensation this time, adding that his client was 50 percent disabled.

“My client had to endure a period of treatment that has extended over many years while trying to survive with HIV. He will continue to face these challenges throughout his life. He has also been deprived of psychological wellbeing for knowing that he would have to receive treatment for the rest of his life and waiting to lose body functions,” he said.

But the man says he no longer wants to live in Turkey, a place where he feels alienated for being an HIV carrier.

“I have not had a friend until today. Everybody ran away from me. I was very alienated. I do not want to stay in a country where I am alienated,” he said.

The 21-year-old, whose father is a bus driver and mother a housewife, was born prematurely in İzmir in 1996, prompting doctors to determine that he required blood transfusion.