The Stigma and Discrimination Continue / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

It’s calculated that there are some 65,000 people living with HIV in Guatemala. There are 20 new cases daily, 7,500 new cases a year. The HIV epidemic in the country is concentrated in population groups at major risk, like sex workers and their clients, and men who have sexual relations with men. There is great discrimination against these groups in the county which makes access to services for HIV more difficult.

According to the first national report on human rights, between 2009 and 2012 more than 313 complaints were presented to the Attorney General’s office and to civil society organizations. Of these 46% were associated with violations of healthcare rights and 13% with the right to life and bodily integrity. These violations were about the scarcity of anti-retrovirus medications and the lack of adequate personal sanitary facilities and diligence.

The transgender organization OTRANS stressed in the report that transgender people have limited access to employment because of stigma and discrimination. OTRANS also reported cases of physical assault, disappearances and deaths due to gender identity. The organization said 13 deaths were reported and three disappearances from 2007 to 2011.

“From the beginning of the epidemic, stigma and discrimination were identified as the main obstacles to effective HIV response,” said Cesar Nunez, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America. “The HIV-related discrimination is itself a violation of human rights which, in turn, implies the violation of other rights such as the right to health, education, dignity and equality before the law,” he said.

November 12 2012