Friday, March 19, 2010

HIV Is A Human Rights Issue – Says Nuha Ceesay

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA(MB)-UNAIDS country officer Nuha Ceesay has said HIV is a human rights issue, and a development problem for countries. Millions continue to be infected, millions continue to die, while there is no cure for the disease, Mr. Ceesay declared.
He was presenting a paper on HIV and AIDS related stigma and discrimination at a two-day workshop for National Assembly members held at Jerma Beach Hotel on 13 February 2010.
According to Mr. Ceesay, HIV and AIDS patients are denied employment, promotion, suffer dismissal and even detention or isolation all a gross violation of their human rights.
He quoted from the UNAIDS International Guidelines, and Guideline 5 clause 22 which reads:
“States should enact or strengthen anti-discrimination and other protection of vulnerable groups, people living with HIV and AIDS and people with disabilities from discrimination in both the public and private sectors, that will ensure privacy and confidentiality and ethics in research involving human subjects, emphasize education and conciliation, and provide for speedy and effective administrative and civil remedies”.
According to Mr. Ceesay, stigma can be defined as the quality that significantly discredits an individual in the eyes of others. It also has consequences for the way in which individuals come to see themselves, he added.
The UNAIDS official stated that discrimination occurs when a distinction is made against a person that results in his or her being treated unfairly and unjustly on the basis of their belonging or being perceived to belong to a particular group.
He noted that HIV and AIDS related stigma comes from the powerful combination of shame and fear. Shame because of the sex or drug injection that transmits HIV and AIDS are surrounded by taboos and moral judgements, and fear because AIDS is relatively new, and considered “deadly”, added Mr. Ceesay.
Other forms of the violation of human rights, he pointed out, include the compulsory testing and screening of individuals and groups.
Regarding the causes of stigma and discrimination, he cited ignorance, prejudice, fear, images of HIV and AIDS victims in the media, etc.
Explaining the agenda for action, Mr. Ceesay said these include to develop and implement comprehensive work place HIV prevention treatment, care and support programmes.
He pointed out that another agenda for action can be organised, and access your own resources, work with people living with HIV groups in solidarity and build capacity of colleagues as peer educators.
According to Mr. Ceesay, it is important to ensure availability of trade unions and workers associations’ commitment and participation, adding that “promoting counseling and testing” are all agenda items.
On impact, he mentioned concealment of the disease after diagnosis, emotional stress and anxiety.
Also problems in family relationships and with friends, increased psychological and psychiatric morbidity, depression ad attempted suicide, Mr. Ceesay added, further noting that isolation, blame, hopelessness can finally lead to despair and death.

No comments: