Local civic groups called on the government Wednesday to expand treatment opportunities for AIDS patients in the country in an effort to alleviate some of the stigma surrounding the disease.
A coalition of 11 human rights groups said, of the 1,300 rehabilitation centers in the country, none currently accepts AIDS patients.
"The health ministry should build a state-run sanatorium where AIDS patients can be hospitalized without discrimination," the coalition said at a press conference in downtown Seoul.
The call came days ahead of World AIDS Day, observed every Dec.
1 and instituted in 1988 to raise awareness about the disease.
An estimated 35.3 million people live with AIDS worldwide, with nearly 10,000 of them being South Koreans, data by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) show.
Still, treatment options in the country remain poor, with the sole rehabilitation that used to take in AIDS patients in Namyangju, just outside of Seoul, being stripped of government support in 2013 after news of human rights violations emerged.
Hospitals in South Korea continue to discriminate against AIDS patients despite calls by the National Human Rights Commission to stop abusing the patients' rights to receive treatment, the coalition said.
In August, a hospital in Wonju, some 132 kilometers southeast of Seoul, denied surgery to an AIDS patient who had asked to have his inner ear infection removed. (Yonhap)