Why Did AIDS Activists Go to Geneva to Cite U.S. HIV/AIDS Policies as a Form of Racial Discrimination?

Published: October 28, 2014

THE BODY
Jenny Levison
Original Article:  bit.ly/10xkyES

This past summer, a national coalition of HIV/AIDS activists in the United States borrowed a page from the civil rights playbook by asking the United Nations to pressure the U.S. to address high and rising rates of HIV in communities of color. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that although African Americans represent just 12 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for approximately 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. The new infection rate was also significantly higher among Latinos/Latinas than it was in white people. The CDC also reported increasing infection among black gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender women.

Based on these statistics, as well as ongoing work in communities affected by HIV/AIDS, the coalition authored a report that claims lack of action against the effects of criminalization, poverty and race on HIV/AIDS in U.S. communities of color constitutes human rights violations against those communities.

Suraj Madoori of HIV Prevention Justice Alliance

The effort was led by Suraj Madoori, manager of the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA) at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC).

At the end of June 2014, Madoori was researching human rights mechanisms that could address the ways that poverty and criminalization affect people living with or vulnerable to contracting HIV. He discovered that the U.S. had signed and ratified very few international human rights treaties, but that one of them — the Convention of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) — was up for review in August 2014, requiring the U.S. to submit a report detailing how it addresses racial disparities.

As part of the original Convention, the U.S. stated that it would "address disparities in HIV prevention and care involving racial and ethnic minorities and other marginalized populations." The U.S. CERD report to the United Nations cited that the government is relying on the Affordable Care Act and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) — a plan created in 2010 that established a five-year road map with clear and measurable targets to be achieved by 2015 — as its strategy for addressing racial disparities in HIV prevention and care. But Madoori and other HIV/AIDS activists on the ground understood that the U.S. would likely fall short of the NHAS goals, which were established without commensurate increases in federal resources.

Full text of article available at link below:  bit.ly/10xkyES

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