It is a melancholy subject to those who travel this world to discuss the rights of people living with HIV. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is now 50 years old, but I think it’s sorely in need of an addendum to clarify that those rights are guaranteed to all people, well, except those carrying a virus. But let me be specific, I’m not talking about just any virus. Let’s put herpes and bird flu, the cold virus and ebola, and even hepatitis to one side. What I’m concerned about is ensuring that people living with HIV marry who we tell them to and have children only if we allow them to. Their expectations of bodily integrity, freedom of movement, and protection from violence are unwarranted. Apparently there are plenty of people in Nigeria and Chile, Kenya and Indonesia who agree with me:
Nigerian AIDS patients marry each other
Chilean woman living with HIV sterilized without consent
Proponents of female genital cutting in Kenya promoting it as HIV prevention method
HIV carriers face microchip implants in Indonesia’s Papua province
So I propose that we clarify the inhuman qualities of people living with HIV in international documents, so we can save ourselves the trouble of passing national policies and creating national programs that prevent them from claiming human rights. As a back-up plan, we could just fall back on Jonathan’s Swift’s proposal. Don’t worry, I’ve googled around, and the HIV virus does indeed die when heated to at least 140 F, so just to be sure to cook them.
Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with satirical blog posts, please read the With Women Worldwide Compact to find out how the International Women’s Health Coalition actually proposes we change policies to prevent increasing HIV infections in women and young people and ensure their equitable access to treatment, care, and support.
Photo courtesy of ExcuseMy Sarcasm, via the creative commons Flickr stream.
Susanna Smith is the Program Officer for Communications at the International Women’s Health Coalition. Read her bio here.