Response stories

Navigating stigma in healthcare: the case from North Macedonia

Aleksandar (name changed), from North Macedonia, who is living with HIV and has an undetectable viral load due to antiretroviral therapy (ART), was referred to a gastroenterohepatology clinic because of long-standing gastritis problems.

During the initial consultation, the gastroenterologist took Aleksandar’s medical history and determined that a colonoscopy was necessary to investigate his gastritis issues further. However, when Aleksandar informed the doctor about his ART regimen and undetectable viral load, the doctor reconsidered and decided to prescribe oral medication instead. The doctor suggested that it would be better to attempt to resolve the problem with tablets first. He advised Aleksandar that if the tablet therapy did not help within a month, then a colonoscopy would be required. The doctor pointed out that a colonoscopy could not be performed at their clinic because of Aleksandar’s HIV status. Instead, he recommended that the procedure should be done at the Infectious Disease Clinic, citing that such interventions had been performed there in the past.

After a month of tablet therapy, Aleksandar’s symptoms persisted. He was informed that the Infectious Disease Clinic no longer performed colonoscopies. Faced with this situation, Aleksandar decided to undergo a colonoscopy at a private health facility without disclosing his HIV status.

Also read:

Resolving сounseling сhallenges in the OST program in Montenegro

Protecting your rights and dignity: supporting a client of OST in Ukraine