A French petition calling for the so-called right to be forgotten for HIV sufferers has attracted over 100 signatures, some of whom are HIV-positive but non-infectious.
The right to be forgotten allows people to request the deletion or removal of personal data — usually from Google search results — where there is no compelling reason for it to remain.
Among those who have signed the petition are two former French health ministers, French politician Roselyne Bachelot and the Nobel Prize for medicine winner, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi.
The right to demand information that could be detrimental to someone be removed from search results already exists for individuals who have suffered and been cured from cancer.
At the heart of the manifesto is Camille Genton, a successful entrepreneur who is about to open his tenth restaurant, whilst also living with Aids.
Genton spoke recently to French news platform FranceInfo about the “double punishment” himself and other HIV positive individuals suffer on a daily basis.
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From having to pay higher levels of insurance to being prohibited from joining a number of professions such as the police force or the fire service, Genton hopes to eliminate the prejudice against people who are HIV positive.
Seven years ago when Genton tried to open his first restaurant, he was told by a banker that he was “not eligible to obtain a loan” and therefore unable to the restaurant.
It’s sneaky because they never say no because you are HIV positive, you are never refused a loan because you are HIV positive, they find other reasons.
Genton believes that science has progressed far more rapidly than the views of society, explaining that he can lead a perfectly normal healthy live in France, with his illness having little to no effect on his long-term relationship as well.
However he still faces higher premiums from insurers and is often refused treatment from dentists and some doctors.
A stigma still exists around HIV, but according to Genton, these prejudices are largely down to ignorance.
Treatment in France “costs nothing” and a treated patient has the same life expectancy as a typical healthy French citizen.
Genton, who has had unprotected sex with his partner for seven years and with no risk towards her, hopes that the petition and surrounding publicity will raise awareness and educate others on the issue “we must not trivialise it, but we must not stigmatise it either”.