06/18/2011, 00.00

Two Iranian doctors accused of conspiracy awarded prize for HIV treatment

Kamiar and Arash Alaei were arrested in June 2008 for an alleged plot aimed at overthrowing the regime. The eldest is still in prison. They are authors of a care program for people with HIV used globally.
Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Two Iranian doctors imprisoned on charges of plotting to overthrow the government have received an award for their work in caring for people with HIV. Kamiar and Arash Alaei were arrested in June 2008, accused of communicating with the United States to overthrow the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One of two brothers, released this year, was able to receive the award in Washington. Kamiar Alaei, 37, said he had never dealt in politics.

The project for which the brothers were honored began in a small clinic, but had such a success that it has been replicated nationally and even in neighboring countries, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. “It was beyond borders really and the programme became part of the national strategic plan. When it was part of a national strategy all we did was part of the strategy and we never went into politics or other [things]"said Kamiar Alei.

The brothers began to treat patients with HIV in the late 90s, and developed a three-step program that integrated prevention, care and social support. Kamiar Alaei said that the demographic situation in Iran, a country where 70% of the population is under 30, means that many are at risk of HIV / AIDS. "About 50% of the population – they say - is between 17 and 21 years of age. So we have a very large number of people who are at risk of sexually transmitted infections and other HIV-related risk factors."

Kamiar’s older brother, Arash, 42, remains in prison (Evin) in Tehran where he is serving a sentence of six years imprisonment. The brothers were awarded the Jonathan Mann Prize for global health and human rights. Kamiar, which was initially locked up in solitary confinement, said he will not feel free until her brother out of prison. "I do not feel I have been released yet. Many nights I dream of returning to prison, and it seems to me that I continue my life in prison. "
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