1983 marks both the establishment of the first public health system as well as the death of the first patient of AIDS in Greece. It was the starting point of a dark period for those with HIV, that lasted more than ten years. As the epidemic grew, homophobia rose, stigmatizing the LGBTQ+ community at the time even more. Additionally, the unpreparedness or even ignorance of the experts and authorities in facing the virus added to the ordeal of all patients with AIDS. Despite its harshness, the history of HIV/ AIDS in Greece is not as documented or well-known as in other countries. The many hundreds that died in those first years mostly remain anonymous. It took years of hard work of activists and doctors for things to change for the better. With the help of Positive Voice, Greece’s association of people living with HIV/AIDS, SNF Dialogues spoke with HIV long-term survivors who shared their memories of what it was like to live through those years, the people they lost and the indignities they endured.
Between 1983 and 1996, we had a daily contract with death. The people that contracted AIDS melted away in pain and misery, weighing 25 kilos at death.
The hallmark of this epidemic was silence, contempt and indifference.
It was a life of punishment, struggle, and loneliness, interminable loneliness. I hadn’t even told my mother I had tested HIV positive.
In those days, we couldn’t even write medical certificates for patients to visit a doctor or a public health committee. They were all stigmatized in society.
Produced by Phoebe Fronista
Sound recording and design: Aris Athanasopoulos
This podcast is only available in Greek.
*The opinions expressed by Dialogues participants, whether representing officially institutions and organizations or themselves, on events, articles, or other audiovisual media are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) or iMEdD. Opinions are made freely, without prior guidance or intervention from the team.