Wednesday, July 8, 2009
To be fisked later
This was a couple weeks ago, but Human Rights Watch has taken Benjamin Wagner's human rights complaint — flaws and all — about HIV testing and sent it virtually unchallenged to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea.
I'll fisk it later. In addition to retelling what is likely inaccurate information about HIV testing among ROK nationals, it relies on a naïvely self-serving notion that prevention programs will be effective even while trying to take the most effective tool away: knowing who all is HIV-positive and training them and their partner in always having safe sex.
This is most un-PC of me, but keeping HIV as a privacy issue a this stage instead of a public health issue has killed people and will kill many more.
If stigma exists for HIV-positive people, an HIV-positive person will experience it eventually. If the stigma is in getting an HIV test, then that shame could be dissipated if all are required to get the tests (and as I've stated, I believe most ROK nationals do, but I have to verify that). But instead, the ones claiming privacy would rather have a situation where we do not know a person is HIV-positive until they get around to voluntarily checking, meanwhile possibly infecting others.
In other words, the rights of one group that is in need of care that will be provided by the state to not be embarrassed trumps the rights of a larger group not to get infected with a deadly but preventable disease. And that, to me, is messed up.
Moreover (and this is no small matter, either), Korea's monitoring of the immunological status of HIV-positive people free of charge, and the Korean government "paying for 100% of the cost of highly active antiretroviral therapy medication" for people in Korea with HIV may be endangered by prohibitively mounting costs if Korea is forced to take in people who have contracted HIV in other countries.