Iranian AIDS Doctors Continued Work Behind Bars
August 2, 2011
HIV/AIDS doctors Kamiar and Arash Alaei pioneered integrated HIV treatment and drug counseling for injection drug users and prisoners in Iran. Kamiar spoke recently about their 2008 arrest; Iranian authorities accused the two brothers of collaborating with an enemy government.
"Condoms and needle-exchange programs are very sensitive issues in an Islamic country, so we had to think carefully about how to provide services. For instance, prisoners had the right to conjugal visits. So we provided counseling, and then, almost as an aside, offered condoms as well. We provided methadone and clean needles by offering them alongside antiseptic swabs."
"We never expected to be arrested," said Kamiar, who still does not know for which enemy government he was accused of being a collaborator. As a scientist, "you need to have collaboration, but the Iranian government makes it difficult now," he said. "The worst scenario we imagined, if the new government was not happy with our work, was that they would tell us not to continue. We would then have asked them how they wanted us to implement or design our programs. We would have adapted."
In prison, the brothers worked to help fellow prisoners take up exercise, reading, and painting, as well as to stop smoking.
07.25.2011; Priya Shetty
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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