Advocacy groups report to UN on U.S. failures to address the HIV epidemic in communities of color
In a report, which will be presented to and considered by the United Nations in Geneva next week, a national coalition of HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations detail the disparate impact of HIV/AIDS on communities of color, and identify the lack of U.S. action on social drivers of the epidemic in those communities as a human rights violation.
Led by the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA), a project of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), the report calls on the U.S. to make good on its ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in January 2013. In the Convention, the U.S. pledged to “address disparities in HIV prevention and care involving racial and ethnic minorities and other marginalized populations.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for an estimated 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. High rates of HIV have also been found in Latino/Latina communities, black gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender women of color.
In the report, the coalition cites specific examples of social drivers – such as mass imprisonment, poverty, unemployment and lack of health care access – as key contributors to the U.S.’s systemic failure to prevent new HIV infections among socially disenfranchised groups. “[H]igh infection rates are due in part to a combination of unjust and uneven policies and laws that enforce racism, stigma, criminalization and discrimination,” the HIV advocates’ report asserts.
The report further states, “[T]his disparity [...] continues to systemically discriminate against communities of color; increases vulnerability to HIV transmission and to stigma and discrimination following HIV diagnosis; and places people of color living with HIV at undue risk for criminalization and human rights violations.”
Additionally, the coalition report to CERD provides several recommendations on how address racial disparities in HIV across the U.S.:
- The modernization and repeal of HIV criminalization laws via the passage of the REPEAL Act.
- The expansion of Medicaid across all US states.
- Development of mechanisms to monitor the progress on addressing racial health disparities and issues of health care access.
- Support for the integration of trauma-informed care frameworks and practices into the US health care system.
- Ensure that all health care providers and the health care system are providing culturally competent services.
- The development of a strong and effective operational plan through the new iteration of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
- Federal support and resources for improved transgender-competent health care and social outreach; developing, non-stigmatizing and accurate data surveillance; and implementing transgender-specific policies.
We urge the U.S. government to strongly consider the report in ensuring a just response that is grounded in human rights and social justice.
The coalition partners and allies behind this report includes:
The Center for HIV Law and Policy
The Counter Narrative Project
National Working Positive Coalition
The Positive Women’s Network of the United States of America
Treatment Action Group
Women with a Vision