HIV Positive Women Alienated in the Dominican Republic

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. ┬áThe 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.

References

“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>.

4 thoughts on “HIV Positive Women Alienated in the Dominican Republic

  1. Response 2b
    I agree with your post, I believe there needs to be an entire acceptance and effort by the world to provide better human rights to HIV/AIDS patients. HIV/Aids patients are not protected under the four protected groups of the U.N. Convention on Genocide. The addition of this group under international genocide law would allow for the protection and security of a voiceless group. America adopted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 in order to protect basic human rights for people living with HIV/Aids. This made it so people living with HIV/Aids would be included in the program providing legal protection for people with disabilities. These protections allow for people with disabilities to live without discrimination to ensure an equal standard of living. If the UN were to implement a similar plan of action, in their international genocide law, I believe a great deal of human rights violations against people living with HIV/Aids would cease.

    References
    AIDS.gov. (2012, February 9). Legal Issues. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/staying-healthy-with-hiv-aids/discrimination/legal-issues/

  2. The fight against gender equality will unfortunately go on forever, but the fact that these women are being discriminated against because of a virus that was most likely inevitable does not make sense to me. Not being able to get a job because of it denies them the opportunity to better their life, which in turn not only affects them but their family as well. Equality for women needs to definitely be included under the genocide law because it is infringing on their rights in so many ways. Some problems I can see though is men feeling as though they need to be distinct in the law as well and given the rights. Also, some cultures might see it unfit for women to have equal rights as men because of the beliefs in which they follow.

  3. In some countries in Asia, employers will discriminate against people with mental illness, and they are able to find out whether or not an employee has mental illness on their medical records. (I know that in at least South Korea, employers are legally allowed to look at an employee’s medical records.) This results in many South Koreans not seeking out treatment for their mental health, because then it would be seen on their medical records, and they may not get hired at any company because of it. It’s terrible how people discriminate against others for something that the other person has that is debilitating to their life. It happens all over the world, and even in well-developed countries.

  4. I agree that it isn’t right to discriminate against a group of people because of their gender and health status. It is unfortunate that proper education on the topics such as AIDS/HIV were not made available to the women in need. It was interesting to read that women were denied human rights and decency, due to their health status. I’m not sure it’s legal to ask anyone their health and disease status on an interview. That also affects a person mentally. Especially for the 33 year old woman who had to learn she had the disease upon submitting a mandatory sample for an interview. People who have a deadly sexually transmitted disease receive a bad stigma, denying them their rights to work and make better of their lives is not only dehumanizing but also demeaning.

Leave a Reply