A column from Dr. Dybul, resolutions in Antigua, a court ruling in Zambia, and more . . . We’re reading about health & human rights

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NewWWRBetter Health, Better Human Rights: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria began with a commitment to advancing human rights in its fight against the diseases, Executive Director Mark Dybul notes, but the need to expand that focus becomes clearer as research confirms the effectiveness of focusing on the most vulnerable populations. This, he points out, is not only humane, but intelligent investment, he writes. “What is more, an international financial institution like the Global Fund now recognizes that conditions that favor human rights, such as rule of law and legal transparency, also favor secure financial investments.” His points are reflected in some of the other pieces we’re reading this week.

OAS resolution on Human Rights: The 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Antigua, Guatemala last week yielded three “particularly solid results” this piece tells us. All recognized human rights issues that are inseparable from public health: a declaration calling for an integrated drug policy across the American states that recognizes the need to build access to justice and healthcare, a resolution to call on member states to recognize rights of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and a resolution for the promotion and protection of human rights of people vulanerable to living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The piece provides links to all of three.

High Court to Hear HIV Activist Case: Aside from the three or four days Zambian authorities took to search their statutes for a charge against HIV treatment advocate Paul Kasonkomona after he spoke on television on the need to include men who have sex with men and sex workers in HIV prevention efforts, his arrest would appear run counter to the his constitutional right to freedom of expression. That’s among his attorneys’ arguments, and last week, that argument succeeded in getting a magistrate to move Kasonkomona’s case to a higher court. Interestingly, the charge Kasonkomona faces, soliciting in public for “immoral purposes,” was, like Zambia’s anti-sodomy law, inherited from British colonial law, without ever being discussed by the Zambian legislature, according to this article. If this is an indication to the present government’s openness to outside input, it might be interesting to see if global health diplomacy has any impact on the continued prosecution of the case.

Links growing between HIV and Disability: One of Kasonkomona’s inspirations and mentors was Zambia’s original AIDS activist, Winstone Zulu, who overcame a crippling bout with polio as a child only to confront the devastating impact of HIV as an adult. Towards the end of his life, Zulu focused his efforts on drawing attention to links between HIV and marginalization, by discriminatory neglect and barriers separating services from the disabled. It is encouraging to see that link increasingly recognized, as it is in this Kenya Star article.

Uganda: Complacency, Low Funding Take a Toll as HIV Prevalence Hits 7.3 percent: As Uganda continues to confront failures in its HIV response, officials might also consider the amount of time and effort it has put into further victimizing men who have sex with men.

Thousands still missing HIV treatment following CAR coup: The impact of disruptions in HIV care, treatment and prevention services continues in the Central African Republic in the aftermath of a March coup.

UNITAID to Provide for Better HIV Medicines: Unitaid will negotiate lower prices and subsidize the price difference between the cheaper, but toxic stavudine-based HIV treatment regimen and the newer tenofovir-based regimen, acknowledging the right of people in poorer countries in the to have access to standard, effective treatment.

Global Call to Action on Lubricant Safety: More than 500 organizations and individuals, including several manufacturers of sexual lubricants, endorsed this call for answers on the impact of sexual lubricants on HIV and other sexually transmitted disease acquisition.

EXPOSED: Episodes three and four are now out, completing this four-part video series examining the deadly sweep of a disease that preys upon the poorest populations, and, spreading through years of complacency, threatens all.The series ends with inspiring looks at those who continue to work towards new diagnostic tools, treatments and vaccines.

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