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Thousands Rally in Mexico City and Call for Human Rights Protections in Global AIDS Response
Date:8/7/2008

ps most affected by HIV. Groups such as women and girls, injecting drug users, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people in prison are the most in need of comprehensive HIV prevention and treatment programs, yet they continue to face discrimination and abuse and are often denied access to lifesaving programs. As a result, HIV continues to spread unchecked in communities worldwide.

"Stigma and discrimination are more devastating than AIDS, and its cost is much higher because it strains social relations and affects the enjoyment of all human rights," said Emilio Alvarez Icaza, President of the Human Rights Commission of the Mexican Federal District.

According to the UNAIDS 2008 report released last week, people who are most at risk for HIV have better access to HIV prevention services in countries that have laws that protect them against discrimination. Yet, one-third of countries have no law or regulation to protect people living with HIV from discrimination, and countries that do have anti-discrimination laws largely fail to enforce them. At the same time, the United Nations estimates that 63 percent of countries still have laws and policies that impede effective HIV services. These include laws against same-sex sexual behavior, sex work, and possession of sterile syringes.

"Human rights should be at the core of everything we do," said Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. "The fight against AIDS and the other major diseases in the developing world is a fight for health and human dignity."

The lack of legal protections for African women, who comprise the majority of infections on the continent worst-affected by HIV, best illustrates the need to combine public health with human rights approaches. Under customary laws throughout Africa, women are denied equal access to divorce, property, and inheritance. In many countries, governments do not aggressively prosecute domesti
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SOURCE Open Society Institute
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