Friday, July 20, 2012

In the News as Week Ends: AIDS, Condoms, Moral Norms

More news commentary I've found worth reading this week: these articles focus on questions about HIV-AIDS, condoms, human rights, social justice, and morality as the XIX international AIDS conference comes to Washington, D.C.:

At Religion Dispatches, Jon O'Brien applauds Pope Benedict for granting that condom use to prevent spread of HIV can be "a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality."   But he faults other Catholic hierarchical leaders who have sought to walk back the papal comment and who continue to condemn the use of condoms even to thwart the infection of others if one is HIV+.

At the Nation, Melissa Gira Grant frames AIDS as not merely a public health issue, but a symptom of underlying societal inequities and injustices.  She writes,

This is the tide that is turning: from locating the crisis of AIDS in individual “risk behaviors” to intersecting and systemic forms of inequality. Global networks of men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and people living with HIV further hope to drive this issue at the AIDS conference, in a newly issued set of principles called The Carr Doctrine. They urge that people working to end the pandemic "recognize that HIV is not just a public health issue, but rather a symptom of underlying societal inequities and injustices."

The face of HIV has always been the face of our failure to protect human rights. One of the key drivers of AIDS has always been, and remains, this failure to ensure human rights protection for marginalised communities, including prisoners, sex workers, drug users, people with disabilities and migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Homophobia, gender discrimination, racial profiling and violence against women have further impeded efforts to effectively manage and contain the spread of HIV.

Voices well worth hearing, in my view--one and all.

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