Saturday, December 18, 2010

“Promoting Human Rights in the Context of HIV/AIDS”

(Below is the power point presentation I prepared for the series of forums for Southwestern University and University of San Carlos. I expanded the one I presented at Salazar College of Science and Institute of Technology)

I. Understanding the principles of human rights

HUMAN DIGNITY
Human dignity is the notion that all individuals, regardless of age, culture, religion, ethnic origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, disability or social condition deserve to be respected and esteemed.

EQUALITY
The equality concept expresses the notion of respect for the inherent dignity of all human beings. As specified in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is the basis of human rights: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

NON-DISCRIMINATION
Non-discrimination is an integral part of the concept of equality. It ensures that no one is denied the protection of his or her human rights based on visible factors.

UNIVERSALITY
Certain moral and ethical values are shared in all regions of the world, and governments and communities should recognize and uphold them. The universality of rights does not mean, however, that they cannot change or that they are experienced in the same manner by all people. The principle of universality is often paired with inalienability of rights. Both principles mean that rights apply to all people and they cannot be given up or taken away.

INALIENABILITY
A person’s human rights cannot be taken away, surrendered, or transferred. The principle of inalienability is often paired with universality of rights. Both principles mean that rights apply to all people and they cannot be given up or taken away.

INDIVISIBILITY
Human rights should be addressed as an indivisible body. That means that all rights, whether civil, political, social, economic, cultural, or collective rights have equal status. The principle of indivisibility is often paired with interdependency of rights. Both principles mean that all rights be seen as having equal importance and are related to each other

INDIVISIBILITY
Human rights should be addressed as an indivisible body. That means that all rights, whether civil, political, social, economic, cultural, or collective rights have equal status. The principle of indivisibility is often paired with interdependency of rights. Both principles mean that all rights be seen as having equal importance and are related to each other

INTERDEPENDENCY
Human rights concerns appear in all spheres of life — home, school, workplace, courts, and markets— everywhere! Human rights violations are interconnected; loss of one right detracts from other rights. Similarly, promotion of human rights in one area supports other human rights. The principle of interdependency is often paired with indivisibility of rights. Both principles mean that all rights be seen as having equal importance and are related to each other.

ACCOUNTABILITY:
Human rights are not gifts bestowed at the pleasure of governments. Nor should governments withhold them or apply them to some people but not to others. When they do so, they must be held accountable. The government is duty-bound to promote, protect and uphold the rights of their citizens

RESPONSIBILITY

INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY:
Every individual has a responsibility to teach human rights, to respect human rights, and to challenge institutions and individuals that abuse them.

OTHER RESPONSIBLE ENTITIES:
Every organ of society, including corporations, nongovernmental organizations, foundations and educational institutions also shares responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights.

II. Principles of Human Rights in the Context of HIV / AIDS

HIV/AIDS and Human Rights

HIV and AIDS impacts not only physical health of individuals but also their identity and condition. It could cause personal suffering and loss of dignity for people with HIV/AIDS.

Human rights are denied when…
1. There is inadequate information
2. There is lack of accessible and affordable medicines to protect their right to
life and health
3. There is discrimination and denial of the right to employment
4. There is lack of privacy, confidentiality and loss of dignity

Promoting human rights in the context of HIV / AIDS
1. Prevent discrimination and stigma
2. Prevent further infection
3. Reduce vulnerability to infection
4. Empower individuals and communities
5. Lessen the impact on those infected and affected

Rights-based approach is important in HIV/AIDS The incidence and spread of HIV/AIDS is disproportionately high among groups that already suffer from lack of human rights protection and from discrimination, or marginalized by their legal status.

HIV/AIDS is also affected by issues of:
Globalization
Migration
Gender violence and discrimination
Inequality (access to treatment, education, justice, etc)
Poverty
War and conflict

HIV / AIDS as a development issue
HIV/AIDS and development is a two-way process, where lack of development increases susceptibility and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS while the disease negatively impacts on development

Social and macro-economic effects
1. Increased expenditures needed for HIV /AIDS
2. Government funds on social services are very limited
3. The prevalence of HIV increase among the local labor force will result to an increase in absenteeism, exacerbating underemployment in the country, which may result in a reduction of economic growth
4. With the returning HIV-positive OFWs, stress would be placed on the resources of the country’s health care system

Effect on the health care system
1. Many PLWHAs (People living with HIV/AIDS) do not have access to basic drugs to treat HIV related infections and other conditions
2. High price of other related drugs, especially anti-retroviral drugs

Effects on Families and Individuals
1. Its impact on households, families and communities threaten social cohesion and solidarity among families and communities
2. A family with an afflicted member suffers increased financial, social, and psychological stress
3. Suffers possible job loss

HIV/AIDS and the Charter for Health HIV/AIDS should be looked at in the context of public health and human rights, with political-economic and socio-cultural angles. It is not just a biological issue.

THE LANGUAGE of HIV

“Person with HIV”, not “person with AIDS” – unless it is used to describe the medical condition.

“People living with HIV infection”, not “HIV infected” or “HIV or virus carriers” because the emphasis should be on people and not the virus or the infection.

“People living with AIDS,” not “dying of AIDS” or “AIDS sufferers” – because the emphasis should be on the people and not the medical condition. Furthermore, the terms “victim and sufferer” suggest powerlessness.

“Living with AIDS,” not “dying of AIDS” as it stresses the fact a person continues to participate in life’s activities.

“Men who have sex with men,” not “homosexual.” “bisexual,” or “gay” because many who have sex with men do not identify themselves as homosexual, etc. It is also inappropriate to label people by virtue of their sexual orientation.

“Women who have sex with women,” not “lesbians” because many women who have sex with women do not identify themselves as lesbians. It is also inappropriate to label people by virtue of their sexual orientation.

“Commercial sex worker,” not “prostitute” as this is a term used by women who do this work. The nature of “prostitution” differs from country to country and culture to culture. The term “sex worker” is inadequate because some sex workers operate for money and some “non-commercial sex workers” operate for security.

“Person with hemophilia,” not “hemophiliac” because a person should not be identified by his/her disease.

“Us” not “them” as all of us are living within the epidemic.

Daghang Salamat!

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References:
“Decade to overcome violence (DOV) 2005”, published by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)

“HIV/ AIDS in the Philippines,” Dr. Delen P. de la Paz, Coordinator PHM – Philippines, Executive Director, Health Action Information Network.

Nancy Flowers (2005), The Human Rights Education Handbook: Effective Practices for Learning, Action and Change, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Human Rights Resource Center

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