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  4. December 2006 - Volume 46
  5. Stigma and Discrimination

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FOCUS December 2006 Volume 46

Stigma and Discrimination


In 2001, Member-States of the United Nations met to discuss actions needed to counter the HIV/AIDS epidemic. At that time, they raised the alarm that if the epidemic was not stopped soon, it might be too late to minimize its disastrous effects. In their 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, one commitment they assumed was the following:

58. By 2003, enact, strengthen or enforce as appropriate legislation, regulations and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against, and to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people living with HIV/AIDS and members of vulnerable groups; in particular to ensure their access to, inter alia education, inheritance, employment, health care, social and health services, prevention, support, treatment, information and legal pro- tection, while respecting their privacy and confidentiality; and develop strategies to combat stigma and social exclusion connected with the epidemic...

Recent studies show that there is much to be done in terms of government measures needed to eliminate the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) and their family members. The human rights of PHAs and their family members are still violated, particularly by the health professionals.

While health professionals already carry the heavy burden of treating PHAs, their respect for human rights constitutes an important component in protecting the human rights of PHAs as a whole.