Serbia Man Wins Compensation after False HIV Diagnosis


A Serbian court has ordered a hospital to pay 4,000 euros ($5,200) in compensation to a man who claimed his life was ruined when he was falsely diagnosed with HIV, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Dragisa Zekic was 23 years old when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 at the main Serbian hospital in Belgrade, the Vecernje Novosti daily reported.

"I went to the hospital with a fever and was dismissed with the HIV diagnosis," he told the paper.

Zekic said a doctor had told him at the time that he had "a month or (up to) six months" to live.

After telling his employer of the diagnosis, Zekic was forced to quit his job and was abandoned by friends, he said.

At another job his employers "did everything to keep me out of contact with other employees... before offering me an early retirement for disabled people," he said.

Sixteen years later, in 2002, once HIV tests became widely available and anonymous, Zekic tested himself again and thought it was a mistake when he received a negative result.

"They tested me five times that day and it was always negative," he said.

The court ruling comes at the end of an eight-year long legal process.

Zekic said he was only looking for "an apology, because my life was wrongly ruined".

"I did not fight a doctor's mistake, but against discrimination. I was healthy, but despised and humiliated because everybody thought I was infected" with HIV, he said.

Since he found out that his diagnosis was false, the 49-year-old has become involved in organizations fighting discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS.

Serbia has officially prohibited bias against HIV-positive people for decades, but in practice they face often brutal discrimination, including by some doctors and nurses.

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