Craig was our friend. That is how we thought of him. Craig was English, he had come to Bulgaria to look for and live a better life. And he was living it. He lived in a village with his partner, working online, gardening, he had many friends. Until a few months ago when all hell broke loose…
On the 20th of March 2019, Martin, Craig’s partner, approached Deystvie’s Legal Program. He told us about his biggest fear – watching your partner die in your arms. Craig was hospitalized in the Dr. Stefan Cherzekov Hospital in Veliko Tarnovo. He had his tests done and then, via his partner Martin, he was asked to leave the hospital. No documents regarding his treatment were issued. As Martin says: ‘They just threw us out.’ (Later on it was revealed that Craig had a quick HIV test done, without his consent and without being notified). Martin then took Craig to a hospital in Pleven, where he was also refused treatment
Martin just stood there in Pleven, watching his partner slowly fade before his eyes, on the back seat of their car.
He found out that Pirogov Hospital Sofia has agreed to treat him and immediately goes to the capital. In Pirogov, Craig was admitted, cared for and stabilized. After being discharged, he was admitted to the Prof. Ivan Kirov Specialized Hospital for Active Treatment of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases That is where Craig was supposed to start his HIV treatment. Meanwhile, his condition reverts to what it was in the beginning, quickly deteriorating. He could not begin therapy in the Infectious Diseases Hospital until his condition was stabilized. The doctors at the Infectious Diseases Hospital took care of Craig, doing blood transfusion, protein infusion, which was his supportive care. Meanwhile, the specialists at CheckPoint Sofia were pleading with three separate hospitals to test him for a specific disease. In one of those hospitals, he was admitted and discharged quickly afterwards and his test results were delayed by almost a month. They were supposed to be ready on Tuesday, the 7th of May, the Tuesday Craig never lived to see. Craig did not die from HIV or AIDS.
Craig died from the stigma surrounding HIV. A stigma which is deeply rooted in our society. A stigma widespread among medical professionals and doctors in Bulgaria, those who ignored their duties for two months and seemed to have forgotten the Hippocratic Oath. Discrimination against LGBTI people in Bulgaria not only exists – it is institutionalized. Today we have lost one of our own, because he was gay and because he had HIV.
We at Deystvie express our deepest condolences to Craig’s partner and their whole family.