Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraqi AIDS patients have provided a harrowing glimpse of what their lives were like in a country where its dictator largely denied the existence of AIDS among the people, Agence France-Presse reports. Most HIV-positive people and their immediate families were quarantined in secret hospitals so that the government could hide all evidence of HIV/AIDS in Iraq, according to the reports. The patients and their families had no visitation rights, and family members were allowed to leave the hospitals only after their HIV-positive relatives died, said Karim Nada, an Iraqi AIDS hospital director. Those who died of AIDS were buried in two Baghdad locations that were kept secret, even from family members.
Ali Hussain, an AIDS doctor, said he "will never forget the agony of these patients. We did not have any adequate treatment for them when the AIDS virus was discovered. Some of them died suffering abominably."
Iraq acknowledged its first AIDS case in 1986 and required all visitors to the country to be tested for HIV antibodies. Although the official Iraqi cumulative AIDS tally is 180 cases, doctors in the country report that the real number is significantly higher.