Putin signs laws on intensive care and foster families with HIV
Now, by law, close relatives are guaranteed the right to visit patients in intensive care units, and people with HIV are allowed to foster or adopt their relatives.
Access for relatives to intensive care units
According to the law, the Ministry of Health should confirm that medical organisations must allow relatives to visit patients. Prior to this, there were no general rules. The decision as to whether to admit family members into the room was at the doctor’s discretion.
Nadezhda Podoplelovaya, a patient in the Moscow Pletnev Hospital, died in 2017. The senior physician and the doctor on duty informed relatives about the deterioration of the woman’s condition, but twice refused to let them into intensive care. At the end of last year, the Moscow City Court awarded compensation to the relatives of the deceased for not being allowed into the intensive care unit.
Nyuta Federmesser, director of the Moscow Multidisciplinary Centre for Palliative Care, suggested that the new law may invalidate the right of one of the parents to stay with a child in hospital until they are discharged. However, one of the developers of the draft law, member of the State Duma Committee for Healthcare Nikolay Gerasimenko, assured people that the new law does not contradict the right of parents to stay in hospitals with children undergoing treatment there.
He also noted that the practice of applying the new law will be monitored. It is likely that further amendments may be made to regulate the duration of the stay of relatives in the intensive care unit.
People with HIV may adopt their relatives
Amendments have been introduced to the Family Code which allow people with HIV and hepatitis C to adopt children. However, the law only partially solves the problem: it applies only when the child is already living in the family.
Svetlana Izambaeva, member of the Interdepartmental Commission on HIV/AIDS under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Coordinating Council on Family and Child Support under the Public Chamber, as well as the director of her own charitable foundation, ten years ago became the first HIV positive woman who managed to gain custody of her brother after the death of their parents. The court case lasted a year. During that time, the 10-year-old boy lived in a foster family, which quickly gave up custody, and a children’s home.
The disadvantage of the new law is that it will only help the adoption or guardianship of relatives. If an HIV positive family wants to take a child out of a children’s home, they will still be prevented from doing so.
“We need a law that allows many HIV positive people to have children in their families. Not everyone will get children all the same, you still need to consider their financial situation, criminal records and so on,” Izambaeva said. “I know exactly why such a law is not being passed. Society is still afraid of people with HIV. And there are people in the government too whose fear is the only thing that prevents them from doing this.”
According to information from the WHO, Russia has the highest rate of new cases of HIV amongst European countries. In 2017, there were 104,000 cases of infection. Currently, according to various estimate, there are around 1.3-1.5 million people living with HIV in Russia.