UN urges equal access to health care on World Zero Discrimination Day

Bea Orante
UN urges equal access to health care on World Zero Discrimination Day
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is fighting for discrimination free health services to combat HIV

MANILA, Philippines – Have you been denied health care because you have HIV?

For some people, this fear has become real. The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reported 1 in 8 people living with HIV are denied health care. Others have it worse: there have also been cases of forced sterilization and testing or treatment without consent.

The UN blames the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and is taking the fight for equal treatment to the hospitals and health centers for World Zero Discrimination Day. 

UNAIDS’ Agenda for Zero Discrimination in Health Care listed 7 priorities for countries and concerned organizations to create equal and respectful health services:

  • Remove legal and policy barriers that impede discrimination-free health care
  • Set the standards for discrimination-free health care
  • Build and share the evidence base and best practices to eliminate discrimination in healthcare settings
  • Empower clients and civil society to demand discrimination-free health care
  • Increase funding support for a discrimination-free health workforce
  • Secure the leadership of professional healthcare associations in actions to shape a discrimination-free health workforce
  • Strengthen mechanisms and frameworks for monitoring, evaluation, and accountability for discrimination-free health care

Although the Philippines has Republic Act 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, which explicitly bans compulsory HIV testing, a proposal from former Health Secretary Enrique Ona would have implemented mandatory HIV tests.

Communities were concerned that it would have become a discriminatory policy and would have further discouraged individuals from getting tested. (READ: Mandatory testing? Groups blast DOH chief)

Enrique’s plan was an attempt to curb the HIV epidemic in the country. Data from the Department of Health showed 21 Filipinos are infected with HIV daily.

World Zero Discrimination Day began on March 1, 2014 after UNAIDS launched their Zero Discrimination Campaign on December 1, 2013, World AIDS Day.

Its goal is to promote a dignified life for everyone regardless of “age, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, skin color, height, weight, profession, education, and beliefs.” – Rappler.com

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