Laws to back HIV rights
ACTING Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has given the thumbs up for more legislative support in protecting the human rights of persons with the deadly HIV virus.
Stuart was speaking on the opening day of a major symposium on HIV And Human Rights In The Caribbean at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) yesterday morning.
“Policymakers must be as passionate about what persons living with HIV should have a right to achieve as they are about what they have a right to be protected from.
“Where legislation that enables these persons to more fully actualise their God-given potential is thought desirable or necessary, therefore, its drafting and passage must be accorded the appropriate sense of urgency.
“The arbiters in all of this will be the courts of law, to which we all repair when we think our rights have been infringed. While it is true that our judiciary is expected to be strong, enlightened and independent, it is never expected to do more than dispense justice according to law, as distinct from justice according to whim, caprice or sentiment,” he said.
Before an audience that included Minister of Health Donville Inniss and his Vincentian counterpart Douglas Slater, acting UWI principal Eudine Barriteau and former National HIV/AIDS Commission chief Dr Carol Jacobs, Stuart said that HIV sufferers still had to endure stigma.
“We now live in a region in which a man or woman will now routinely and unabashedly disclose that he or she is diabetic or hypertensive. These diseases attract neither stigma nor reproach.
“We have not yet got to the stage, though, where that man or woman will disclose equally routinely and without abashment that he or she is HIV-positive.
“I hear diabetes and hypertension described as chronic non-communicable diseases. HIV/AIDS are communicable diseases to which a pronounced social stigma attaches . . . .”