237052 Rights At Risk: HIV and Human Rights in Mississippi

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 1:30 PM

Megan McLemore, JD, LLM , Health and Human Rights Division, Human Rights Watch, New York, NY
This presentation will focus on Human Rights Watch's intensive investigation of HIV and human rights in the state of Mississippi. Part of a larger project examining human rights abuses in southern states that are fueling the HIV crisis in the South, the findings from the Mississippi investigation are based on extensive research and interviews with people living with HIV and AIDS, their advocates, public health officials, legislators, judges, and medical providers.In one of the poorest states in the nation, where access to medical coverage and health care is extremely low, numerous state laws and policies are blocking effective HIV interventions and contributing to the crisis that is devastating minority communities.These include the state's failure to invest in public health, Medicaid and HIV programs; opposition to health care reform that would expand access to health care for many people living with HIV; the state-wide abstinence campaign that has a particularly devestating impact on LGBT youth and African-American women; the criminalization of HIV exposure and transmission; and state-sponsored homophobia through laws, policies and constitutional amendments that keep men having sex with men underground and away from essential HIV services.The importance of both federal and state leadership to address these policies that undermine both health and human rights will be discussed. We will identify ways that public health professionals in the state and in the region are currently working to change these approaches and how develop strategies for supporting these efforts.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify laws and policies that are contributing to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Mississippi and undermining public health and human rights; evaluate recommendations for advocacy to implement change at the federal and state 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