Friday, May 27, 2016
In our efforts to prevent HIV transmission and improve the care of persons living with HIV we must keep foremost in mind that we are not merely dealing with the interplay between a retrovirus and an individual’s immune system; it’s a much more nuanced interaction. Understanding and addressing the relevant social, economic and environmental circumstances of our client’s lives is as important today as it was back in 1981. And while as a nation we may have moved beyond the more blatant, headline-grabbing forms of stigma and discrimination associated with HIV in that first decade of the epidemic, we must continue to confront HIV-related stigma whenever and wherever we encounter it. Finally– and this is a lesson that we should never forget–we are stronger and more effective when we can work together, building bridges across programs, disciplines and perspectives. The fact that biomedical science has tremendously advanced our ability to counter this epidemic should never be misinterpreted to mean that other components of a comprehensive response to HIV/AIDS are no longer necessary. Strong leadership, community mobilization, a shared vision of success and an unwavering commitment to empowering our most vulnerable populations must always be at the heart of our work to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic here in the U.S. and abroad.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
In many countries, there are laws criminalizing people who expose others to HIV or transmit the virus via sexual intercourse. Supporters of criminalization often claim they are promoting public health or justify these laws on moral grounds. However, such laws do not acknowledge the role of ART in reducing transmission risk and improving quality of life for those living with HIV.
The past decade has seen new wave of HIV-specific criminal legislation in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In Western Africa, a number of countries have passed such laws following a regional workshop in Chad in 2004 which aimed to develop a 'model' law on HIV and AIDS for the region.
The law guarantees pre and post-testing counselling and anti-discrimination protections in employment and insurance for people living with HIV. However, it holds HIV-positive people responsible for disclosing their status to anyone they have sexual intercourse with as well as measures to prevent HIV transmission. If they do not, they face criminal sanctions. Under these types of laws, there is the possibility that pregnant women living with HIV could be prosecuted for transmitting the virus to their baby.
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