“Sometimes I was walking down the street and some people would see me and say, ‘Here comes the one with SIDA,’” she said, using the Spanish word for AIDS. “It’s very difficult situation to be there as an activist.”
Officially, Honduras has stronger protections for people with H.I.V. than some of its neighbors. But the reality, according to Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department, is that people with H.I.V. are routinely denied access to jobs, education and health services.
“The women who are infected are considered to be dirty,” said Deborah Ottenheimer, a Manhattan-based gynecologist who does exams for women seeking asylum because of human rights abuses. She has met Honduran women with H.I.V. who experienced all types of persecution, including forced sterilization.
“They can’t get jobs, they often are attacked. Their children — especially if their children are thought to be, not even known to be, but thought to be H.I.V. positive — will also be discriminated against. They won’t be allowed to go to school.”
Ms. Batiz’s daughters suffered at school, especially Susan. “Everybody, all my classmates, knew about my mother and my sister, too,” Kirad recalled. She said they called Susan “sidosa,” a slur against people with AIDS.
There were also vicious attacks. “They would take her to the bathroom and would put her head in the toilet,” Kirad said, adding that these were filthy toilets without modern plumbing.
Kirad said she saw students push her sister’s head into a toilet on about five different occasions, and that she would try to fight the other kids in the bathroom. Susan didn’t want to tell their mother, but Kirad did. When Ms. Batiz confronted the school, she said the director behaved as though it was no big deal. At some point around 2016, things got so bad that she took both of her girls out of school and kept them at home.