Dr Ivan Douda is a psychologist and has been working with drug addicts for over 25 years. He is one of the founders of Prague's "Drop-in Centre", which has been offering advice to addicts, recommending treatment and sending streetworkers out into the field since 1991. In the days of Communism Czechoslovakia's borders were closed. This - combined with a currency that was worth next to nothing - meant that few hard drugs reached the country and there were very few cases of drug-related HIV and AIDS. After the fall of Communism, experts like Ivan Douda had to confront many new problems, and for the first time they were allowed abroad to see how other countries were coping. Here Ivan Douda remembers an experience from that time that changed his view of the problems of HIV.
"One thing which I'll never forget was about ten years ago. I was in Paris and it was something about drugs and HIV positivity and we visited some special institution - something like Lighthouse - where the HIV postive people are for maybe one, two, three or four years. And the first contact with HIV positive people was... I was afraid to shake hands with them, to touch the doors, and I saw the same thing on my colleagues. Theoretically I knew that transmission of the virus is not possible this way, only by shaking hands, but my anxiety was very, very high. And on top of that there was some small child of about four years and he was HIV positive, and he had a cake in his hand and offered it to me. I felt that the people were watching me, if I will eat it. And for me it was very important. So I took it and I ate it. And for me it was a very important experience, not only about HIV positivity, not only about theory and practice. Until this time I thought of myself that I am a professional about drugs and HIV, and I'd been working in that field for fifteen years, but this moment was that I really had to prove that I really believe and I really do what I know to be true. So for me it was something like a new experience, because this is reality. And this confrontation was very important for me."