Asia: Widespread discrimination in healthcare settings undermining effective HIV response
(Bangkok, Thailand. 29 February, 2016)
Ahead of the March 1st Global Zero Discrimination Day, people living with HIV in Asia continue to face discrimination in health care settings, impeding their access to health services and denying them the right to health, said Asia Catalyst, an independent organization working to promote the right to health for marginalized communities in Asia, in a new report released today.
Based on testimony gathered by eight community-based organizations (CBOs) across the Asia region, the 83 page report, FIRST DO NO HARM: Discrimination in Health Care Settings against People Living with HIV in Cambodia, China, Myanmar, and Viet Nam, details the experiences of 202 women, men and transgender persons living with HIV in Cambodia, China, Myanmar and Viet Nam when accessing health care services. The findings highlight denial of services, segregated waiting areas, refusal to provide surgery, and discriminatory additional fees due to a person’s HIV status.
In Myanmar, Cambodia and Viet Nam, women living with HIV reported denial of sexual and reproductive healthcare services because of their HIV status. This included pressure not to have children and denial of medically accurate information on how to minimize the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child. Women from Cambodia and Myanmar reported they underwent sterilization procedures on the advice of doctors because of their HIV status. All transgender women interviewed in China were denied breast augmentation surgery because of their HIV-status.
“Understanding the human toll is key to addressing the root causes of discrimination and ensuring a holistic response to the HIV epidemic,” said Jebli Shrestha, Regional Program Manager at Asia Catalyst . “This need is magnified when stigma dissuades or even prevents people from seeking care in the first place.”
The report also detailed the legislative environment in all four countries, all of which have policies in place to protect citizens from discrimination, but which are not being uniformly enforced. The organization noted that communities at high risk of HIV, such as sex workers, gay and bisexual men, and transgender women, were doubly discriminated against. (more…)