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AIDES – Act Up-Paris – Elus Locaux Contre le Sida (Local Elected Against AIDS)

French Minister of Health to be blamed in Washington on official France’s booth

The Minister of Health lacks of argument to withdraw the ministerial decree banning People Living With HIV from funeral cares.

jeudi 26 juillet 2012

Toutes les versions de cet article : [français] [français]

The French Ministry of Health refuses to end the funeral care banning. During an informal talk between activists and a member of her staff, 4 arguments were put forward. These 4 arguments (and our answers) being :

"There is no clear statement from any scientist agency in favour of the end of the funeral care banning. The French National Council on Aids could be asked to provide recommendations but it has not been done yet."

1. The French National Council on Aids handed in a report in March 2009 and demanded the end of the funeral care banning for people living with HIV (PLWHIV)
2. Community-based Organisations made a report providing the necessary expertise that by no means has been seized by the Minister of Health.

"The first draft of the ministry decree has been refused by the Interior Ministry in charge of giving permission to the Funeral Care centers"

3. It is the Ministry of Health duty to convince her colleague, on the basis of a reliable scientific expertise, that there is no risk for professionals to be infected by HIV or viral hepatitis when providing funeral cares. As a person in charge of the public health sector, her words should have priority.

"As far as working conditions, health and security at work are concerned, the Ministry of Labour is in charge and it has not been consulted up to now".

5. Funeral cares banning for people living with HIV or a viral hepatitis is a clear threat for funeral care workers. By making them think they work in safe conditions they are actually being misled and therefore pay less attention to those for which the HIV status is unknown. Epidemiology indeed teaches us there is still a hidden epidemic - there will always be people for which the HIV status remains unknown. In that way the banning has nothing to do with a precautionary principle. This is just irrational phobia and discrimination.

"The reluctance of funeral care workers, the risk of an increasing cost (400 euros per body) and the lack of safe places to provide such cares pose a clear threat to the whole profession that already has a hard time recruiting new people. So is there a risk of strong protests from this latter with respect for their health and their working conditions".

6. Such an argument is surprising to be considered. Would the French Minister of Health legitimate the discriminations on-going against people living with HIV from dental surgeons if these latters would be protesting ? Does the Ministry realize how stigmatizing and discriminatory such a statement is ?

Every dead body is at potential risk and so are the materials being used by the funeral care professionals. Precautions must therefore be carried out for every situation without distinguishing and stigmatizing people living with HIV or viral hepatitis. Community-based organisations against HIV/Aids are fully concerned with the safety of people at work. But this discrimination by no means addresses the safety of funeral care professionals and that is why we would like this banning to be removed. It is furthermore an unbearable situation for every person living with HIV and viral hepatitis who are also being rejected and stigmatized after they have passed away. This banning has therefore to be removed.