After doing a little research I came across an article from 2004 from the website Human Rights Watch, hwr.org, that briefly detailed the accounts of discrimination faced by women who were found to be HIV positive in the Dominican Republic. These women were subject to discrimination within the public/private health care systems and in the work field which included denial to proper medical treatment after receiving their positive test results as well as denial for proper health insurance by employers and flat out rejection when seeking out job opportunities.
As we should be aware, women within the United States are still working towards achieving total equality in areas of employment and personal health and in many instances are still being discriminated against for their gender, but around the world there are places that remain steps or even leaps behind when speaking about gender equality. In the Dominican Republic just 12 years ago, women were falling victim to what the article describes as “double discrimination” for not only their gender but also their sexual health. As the leading cause for mortality among women of reproductive age in the Dominican Republic, HIV/AIDS affects around 61,000 women, which is quite a staggering number considering women make up more than half of the total people that carry the virus. According to the United Nations organization for AIDS, abbreviated UNAIDS, reported that over the past decade, the number of women afflicted with HIV or AIDS has risen steadily.
These women first and foremost are given insufficient information regarding HIV/AIDS, most often about testing and treatment. Healthcare providers in many instances revealed test results to families and employers without the consent of the patient, subjecting them to violence and abuse. In some cases, like that of a 23 year old pregnant woman who was preparing to give birth, she was tested for HIV against her own will and subsequently denied proper treatment by a doctor who is quoted in the article saying, “I don’t want to be infected.” She went on to explain that the doctor refused to come close for a proper birth, catching the infant from hitting the floor as it exited the mothers womb and refusing to clean her as though she were some kind of animal rather than a patient. For another 33 year old woman who applied for a job at a large hotel, tourism being one of the biggest industries and providing many women with employment opportunities, she was given an mandatory HIV test as part of her interview. The day after she had been informed she was not granted the job because she had tested positive for HIV. The only explanation she was given was that “We cannot give work to someone like that,” something she could not understand as this was the first time she had been aware of her own health condition.
Obviously these women of the D.R. were subjected to horrors of discrimination that were not covered by the UN Convention on genocide as physical/mental health can be another bin for grouping individuals. In this particular case, women were discriminated not only for their gender but alienated and cast aside for carrying a deadly virus that affects so many people world wide and has been researched over decades. It seems rather shocking when you hear these reports of doctors treating HIV positive patients as though they have some sort of airborne plague and companies that refuse to hire prospects for business ethics or insurance reasons.
“Dominican Republic: Women with HIV Doubly Abused.” Human Rights Watch. HRW, 12 July 2004. Web. 15 July 2016. <https://www.hrw.org/news/2004/07/12/dominican-republic-women-hiv-doubly-abused>.