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When did illness become a crime?

Cyprus Today Opinion

Cyprus Today Opinion

When did illness become a crime?

  • 11.10.2017

NORTH Cyprus shot itself in the foot yet again this week as medical confidentiality rights were flouted to shine a career-threatening spotlight on a world famous footballer while dashing plans for his role as mentor to Turkish Cypriots.
The online viral spread of HIV-positive allegations against former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Eboué was ramped up by UK and French newspapers who trawled Turkish Cypriot social media posts for details.
In three short days, Mr Eboué went from the heights of elation to the depths of despair – as have a string of expats who came to Cyprus Today with health test horror stories and others who suffered in anonymity. 
For who in North Cyprus would wish their neighbours to know?
This brutal and dehumanising approach to infectious disease dates back to British Colonial days and is exacerbated by false positive results, lack of advanced lab tests, uninformed prejudice and gossip. 
But when did illness become a crime?
And despite calls for the newly diagnosed to have access to a psychologist, a lawyer and a doctor, most are simply incarcerated until the next Cabinet meeting where deportation orders are signed.
Mr Eboué's case adds to a sorry litany over the years. In 2015, two foreign women under threat of detainment after positive tests jumped from windows, a year after an HIV-positive Syrian refugee was deported to die in his home country in 2014.
Then there was the chef locked in a basement police cell at Girne's New Harbour for six days in 2011 before deportation.
Or the Karaman property owner who, on diagnosis, was promised confidentiality while he sorted out his life. When he decided on a weekend in İstanbul to cheer himself up, he was refused re-entry and sent back to Turkey to suffer a distressing night in a police cell before he was allowed back to sell his house and move to Sweden for treatment.
Small wonder Mr Eboué departed for the UK.
 

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