RE: Human Rights Violations Create HIV Risk Environment in the U.S. South

“…McLemore argues that, based on international law regarding human rights and public health, the U.S. is obligated to provide the following protections for U.S. Southerners:

  • The right to health.
  • The right to disease prevention and information.
  • The right to treatment and services. 
  • The right to be free from racial discrimination.
  • The right to equal access to public health services.”

“By framing the debate in human rights terms, and pressing for changes in policy and law enforcement, Human Rights Watch has been able to bring about changes on issues such as segregation of HIV-positive prisoners in Alabama and South Carolina, the use of condoms as evidence against sex workers in New Orleans, and access to clean syringes for drug users in North Carolina. However, there are still many disparities among people living with HIV in the South, and more work needs to be done to tackle these issues. Improved access to health care and housing remain particularly difficult to address.”

I’ve said for years that a three pronged, human rights, racial justice and public health approach much be taken to deal with HIV/AIDS in the United States. As I posited in my piece, “HIV Criminalization: A Continuation Of Racial-Sexual Terror Exacted On The Bodies Of Black MSM“, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among black MSM–and the consequences of public survival–are not accidental and tend to reinforce themselves thanks to our sociolegal system in the United States. The simple question we must ask ourselves is this–what are the costs and benefits of proactively seeking care if you have Queer, Poz and Colored in the United States? After attempting to access services, or advocate for yourself, do you leave better off than when you started? Are you healthier or closer to physical or political death? Do you gain or lose bodily autonomy? Is your worth affirmed or sullied by the state, society or media? Do you gain medical-sexual privacy or do you lose it? Consider the answers to these questions and then put them in conversation with our public health, criminal and regulatory systems in America.


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