237044 HIV and Human Rights in the Southern United States

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 12:50 PM

Megan McLemore, JD, LLM , Health and Human Rights Division, Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
This presentation will share findings from an intensive investigation by Human Rights Watch of human rights abouses throughout the southern United States that are blocking effective HIV interventions. Based on extensive research and interviews with people living with HIV and AIDS, their advocates, public health officials, legislators, judges and medical providers, Human Rights Watch documented numerous state laws and policies that create an "environment of risk" that has made the South the nation's epicenter for HIV infection and deaths from AIDS. In the south, where poverty levels are the highest in the nation, where fewer people have access to health insurance, and where incarceration rates are the highest in the country, state policies are contributing to the disproportionate impact of HIV on minority communities. The failure to invest in public health, Medicaid and HIV-specific programs; failed abstinence-based education; criminalization of HIV exposure; and failure of prison re-entry programs to ensure prevention and linkage to care are some of the policies that undermine both public health and human rights. Recommendations generated from the investigation will be identified and related to the goals of the National AIDS Strategy. Progressive responses in the region, e.g. North Carolina's new comprehensive sex education laws, and advocacy opportunities for expanding these models will be identified.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Identify state laws and policies that are contributing to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and blocking effective HIV interventions in the southern United States; Evaluate recommendations for addressing these policies at the state and federal levels.

Keywords: Human Rights, HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a lawyer and human rights monitor with 20 years of experience in the field of HIV and AIDS, working with vulnerable populations including women, low-income individuals, immigrants, and prisoners. My experience includes monitoring prison conditions for the federal courts and leading legal workshops for genocide survivors with HIV in Rwanda. I am the author of five major reports for Human Rights Watch on HIV in vulnerable populations in the US.I have presented twice previously at the APHA conference.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: HIV/AIDS & Human Rights
See more of: HIV/AIDS