Protecting HIV-Positive Women's Human Rights: Recommendations for the United States National HIV/AIDS Strategy
8 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2011
Date Written: 2009
To bring the United States in line with prevailing human rights standards, its National HIV/AIDS Strategy will need to explicitly commit to a human rights framework when developing programmes and policies that serve the unaddressed needs of women. This paper focuses on two aspects of the institutionalized mistreatment of people with HIV: 1) the criminalization of their consensual sexual conduct; and 2) the elimination of informed and documented consensual participation in their diagnosis through reliance on mandatory and opt-out testing policies. More than half of US states have HIV-specific laws criminalizing the consensual sexual activity of people with HIV, regardless of whether transmission occurs. Many of these laws hinge prosecution on the failure of HIV-positive people to disclose their HIV status to a sexual partner. The Obama Administration should explore administrative and legislative incentives to eliminate these laws and prosecutions, and target a portion of prevention funding for anti-stigma training. Testing policies should be reconsidered to remove opt-out and/or mandatory HIV testing as a condition for receipt of federal funding; incentives should encourage states to adopt local policies mandating counseling; and voluntary HIV testing should be offered regardless of the provider's undocumented perception of an individual's risk.
Keywords: reproductive health and rights, Obama, human rights
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