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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 14:19 GMT
'One cannot expect a drastic change'
Last December, as part of the BBC's series on Aids, people living with HIV from around the world told their own stories in their own words. Here, one year on, they tell us how their lives have changed since.

Amir Reza, an Iranian who contracted Aids through transfusions for a blood disorder, talks about how he has been managing his illness for the past year.

Amir Reza
Amir says he has become more active in raising awareness of Aids
My physical condition has not changed, or at least not for the worse, since last year.

I am on medication but, because I buy anti-retroviral drugs from abroad and have not had to use the generic types produced inside Iran, I am in a better state than other patients.

And dealing with the psychological aspects of this disease depends on your personal attitude.

Prejudice remains

My outlook on my condition has not changed since last year.

The authorities have changed their attitude towards HIV-positive people
Everybody around me, including my colleagues and friends, know about my condition.

However, as I said a year ago, people are still not aware or educated about HIV/Aids.

Although the general public has heard more about Aids and is equipped with more information about the disease itself, their view of those who have contracted the HIV virus or live with Aids is still the same.

One cannot expect a drastic change in people's attitudes on such a sensitive issue in the course of only one year.

Nevertheless, the authorities have changed their attitude towards HIV positive people.

Good examples of this change are the events held for World Aids day.

These events started on Monday and will run for a week. They are organised by different groups affiliated to Aids projects in Iran, including UNAids.

Among the speakers we have had some women living with HIV who shared their views.

Becoming involved

In the past year, I have been active in raising public awareness about Aids in other ways.

Nine months ago, I started working with Unicef and I currently hold the post of HIV information adviser at its office in Tehran.

With the help of a number of physicians, I have also set up a website on Aids.

It includes medical aspects such as discussion of the sexual transmission of HIV/Aids which is considered a taboo subject.

It also provides the latest figures in Iran. It will be launched very soon.

Send us your reaction to Amir's story using the form below.

I wonder if the authorities need to speed up their acceptance of the reality of Aids in Iran. Given the high rates of drug usage and the taboo of the subject of sex, it is very easy for this disease to spread very rapidly indeed. It would become thoroughly unmanageable in a country whose economy is not open and is suffering in its current political climate.
Maryam, London, UK

Personally, as an Iranian, it hurts my heart that my home country has just barely started its awareness of HIV/Aids. My country needs to start paying more attention to its people. At a time of drug addiction, prostitution and a lack of help, Iran as a country needs to group together and show the international community that we are a great nation. As for Amir, the only thing I can say is be strong and do your duty to keep people aware of this crisis.
Ali, Los Angeles, California, USA

God knows and He greatly cares for you Amir. The world needs you to continue preaching the good message.
Faith, Lusaka, Zambia

Amir proves the point that whether we live in the developed world or in the developing world, in an Islamic state or a Secular state, the Aids issue is there and it requires urgent attention right now from us all. While public awareness and taking preventative measures with one's partner is of course necessary, at this late stage, where an Aids epidemic looks inevitable, we need to concentrate on building hospitals, training medical staff to deal with this disease, as well as conduct research into better, enhanced retroviral drugs. All this requires more funding. Politicians should put their money where their mouths are.
Mehmet Hristu, Nicosia, Cyprus

I believe that while Mr Reza is taking advantage of a horrible situation, and using it to educate others on the serious effects of HIV/Aids, he is showing good character and his will to protect future generations. That, to me, is heroic.
Stephanie, Gettysburg, USA

Long live Amir. The ignorance of this world is depressing. The ignorance towards this disease is even more debilitating to the minds of those living with Aids. I applaud you, your strength and your courage. To have contracted HIV in such an innocent way is so sad. I and the rest of the world are praying for you along with the millions of other people out there living with HIV and Aids.
Fiona Edwards, Boston, MA, USA

Aids is a disease like any other disease and we should treat HIV positive people no differently to anyone else. Hopefully one day science will provide the cure for this disease.
Mohammad Ali, Tehran, Iran

I admire him. He is excellent in the way he has come to terms with his disease and I look at him as a strong person. If one can't overcome a serious matter like this in his life he wouldn't be able to continue with his life. It is great.
Maziar, UK

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