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Two CUPE members are in Mexico City this week for AIDS 2008. Today, Gerry Lavallée, co-chair of CUPE’s National Pink Triangle Committee, attended two workshops. Here, Lavallée shares some observations.

This morning, I attended a workshop entitled Advocating for Human Rights and HIV/AIDS:  Now More Than Ever. This workshop emphasized that the protection of human rights is essential to safeguard human dignity. Supportive frameworks of policy and law are essential to effective HIV responses.

In addition, universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support will never be achieved without paying greater attention to human rights.  These include medical treatment without coercion and with guarantees of privacy, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom to form HIV/AIDS organizations, a work environment that is respectful of HIV status, equal access to education for children with HIV, a standard of living adequate to maintain good health and freedom from torture, cruel and inhuman treatment. 

Protection of human rights, both of those vulnerable to infection and those already infected, is not only important for individuals, but also produces positive public health issues.  

Later in the day, I sat in on a session about violence against women and HIV. I was surprised to learn that violence against women and HIV are linked (due to gender inequality, social norms, intimate violence, rape).


New infections among women are still increasing at a faster rate than new infections among men.  Women and girls are at serious risk and must have meaningful involvement in all levels of response to the HIV pandemic.  

According to the Barcelona Bill of Rights, all women and girls have the following rights:

  • to live with dignity and equality
  • to bodily integrity
  • to health and healthcare - including treatment
  • to safety security and freedom from fear of physical and sexual violence
  • to be free of stigma, discrimination, blame and denial
  • to their human rights regardless of sexual orientation, to sexual autonomy
  • to equity in their families and intimate partnerships
  • to education and information and to economic independence.