Mexico: Time To Base Public Policy On Rights

Published on IPS, by Zofeen Ebrahim, August 6, 2008.

Preaching abstinence to the young has not worked, nor has sex work been eradicated. Experts gathered here for the 17th International AIDS Conference say it is time to put public policies under the microscope and see why they have failed.

Why do policies ostensibly put in place to protect sex workers end up penalising them and why are policy makers bent on sanitising them? experts asked. Why have drug users been denied key HIV prevention services?

Billions of dollars have been poured into interventions but the result is far from satisfying. The persecution of gay men – who are now at the greatest risk of HIV infection – continues. It seems the demonising of disenfranchised populations has only intensified …

… The 34 million dollars that the U.S. has withheld each year is close to 10 percent of UNFPA’s regular income. By not funding the leading voice for women needing reproductive health care and family planning, “the U.S. is significantly crippling efforts to improve women’s lives across the globe,” according to the U.N. Foundation …

In Iran, Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei – both doctors – have played a role in putting the issues of drug use and HIV/AIDS on the national health care agenda. They have worked closely with government and religious leaders to ensure support for education campaigns on HIV transmission, including those targeting youth, and for HIV and harm reduction programs in prisons.

At the end of June both doctors were reportedly detained by Iranian authorities. Their whereabouts are currently not known.

Arash was scheduled to speak at the International AIDS Conference here. A coalition of groups – including Physicians for Human Rights – have sponsored an empty chair with his name, to bring attention to the detentions … (full text).

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