Saudi Gazette – Several AIDS patients have criticized the Saudi Charity Association for AIDS Patients for revealing their names and addresses to other philanthropic institutions, saying the action has negatively affected their social status and embarrassed them and their families.

In a Twitter message obtained by Okaz/Saudi Gazette, the patients said the AIDS charity relayed their names, addresses and phone numbers to other organizations exposing them to the public. “We were expecting the charity to shoulder its responsibility completely without resorting to the assistance of other organizations,” the message said.

An informed source at the charity said it handed over the information about the patients to other charities because of a shortage in financial resources to take care of them.

“We have reached an agreement with the patients in this regard in order to receive assistance from other authorized charities and they have not expressed any reservation or objection to the move because we have explained to them the reason,” the source told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

Dr. Omar Al-Khouli, a lawyer and academic, emphasized that it was the responsibility of the Saudi Charity Association for AIDS Patients to take the permission of all patients before passing information about them to other charities.

“I understand the charity passed the information to get assistance for the patients and not to defame them. It is very clear that they did not intend to harm the patients,” he said.

Al-Khouli said he did not expect the patients to lodge any complaint against the charity on account for defamation, because defamation means providing information to others to hurt somebody intentionally. On the other hand, the charity acted to ensure continuous assistance to the patients.

Abul Hussain, a patient, spoke about change in the charity’s dealings with patients. “They have started demanding fingerprints instead of signatures to get assistance, and its officials ask women to remove their veil for identification.”

He said the patients have overcome all these difficulties to get the charity’s meager assistance. “But we have never expected the charity to pass our names and addresses to other organizations. Of course, they have received permission from some patients after putting a lot of pressure on them.”

Abul Hussain and other patients expressed their anguish over the charity’s lukewarm response to their protest. However, he stated that the charity had informed them that they had to provide their names and addresses to other charities to ensure continued financial assistance.

Umm Khaled, a female patient, also protested the charity’s irresponsible action.

“I never expected another charity, which is not involved in supporting AIDS patients, would contact me and tell me that they know the address of my residence and the number of my family members. I am sure, they also know now that I am inflicted by AIDS. If there was no financial need I would not have contacted the AIDS charity. I had to wait for long and travel a lot to get their assistance. But the charity has defamed us, instead of helping us, by informing people who do not know we have contracted the disease,” the woman said, expressing her deep sorrow.

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