This article argues that the U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy must explicitly commit to a human rights framework when developing programs and policies that address the needs of women. This is particularly vital with regard to government-sanctioned stigma and discrimination that implicitly endorses the isolation and mistreatment of people living with HIV. Regressive HIV policies also are detrimental to public health, preventing people living with HIV from obtaining housing, employment, health care, and access to other vital services.
The authors urge the Obama administration to explore administrative and legislative incentives to eliminate laws that criminalize the consensual sexual activity of people living with HIV. It also argues that national policies must be revised concerning HIV testing: testing policies should remove opt-out or mandatory HIV testing as a condition for federal funding, incentives should encourage states to adopt local policies mandating counseling, and voluntary HIV testing should be offered regardless of a health care provider's undocumented perception of a patient's risk.
The authors' recommendations reflect those originally developed by an HIV civil rights working group (consisting of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, the ACLU Gay Rights and AIDS Projects, Lambda Legal, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), and AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, in a transition memo and specific recommendations previously submitted to the Obama administration, and later adopted in recommendations to the administration this summer by a Ford Foundation grantee working group on women and HIV.