Back grey_arrow_rt.gif
Bid to name Rio de Janeiro's HIV carriers online sparks row
  Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro
The Guardian, Friday 1 May 2009
Brazilian Aids campaigners have reacted furiously to draft legislation that would force Rio de Janeiro's state government to publish an online list of all HIV carriers.
The proposal is the brainchild of Jorge Babu, a controversial independent MP who was recently expelled from the ruling Workers party (PT) after accusations of involvement in a group of paramilitary vigilantes in Rio de Janeiro.
In the bill's introduction, Babu argues that the move would help to protect medical staff from contamination. "All professionals involved in attending [patients] have the constitutional right to know if they are treating an HIV-positive patient," it reads.
The bill also proposes making it compulsory for HIV carriers to carry identification, arguing that on becoming infected, "such citizens take on different characteristics to the rest [of society], requiring different treatment".
Human rights activists, Aids campaigners and fellow MPs were quick to condemn the project.
William Amaral, a leading Aids campaigner, warned that identifying HIV carriers could expose them to death threats and even murder. "The bill puts people's lives at risk," said Amaral, arguing that there had been cases of HIV carriers being expelled from their homes in Rio's slums by drug traffickers.
Roberto Pereira, head of a prominent Rio Aids support group, said the idea of forcing ID cards on HIV carriers was reminiscent of the Nazi laws that forced Jewish citizens to wear the Star of David.
"The bill is misled and profoundly discriminatory ... and injures the basic principles of human rights," he said.
Pereira warned that Brazilian society could not afford to ignore such "prejudiced" ideas, citing another recent bill, sponsored by an evangelical MP, which suggested funding treatment for homosexuals who wanted to be "cured".
Cases of HIV/Aids first began to appear in Brazil in the early 1980s and many doctors expected South America's largest country to be overwhelmed by the illness during the 1990s.
But progressive health policies, including the free distribution of anti-retroviral drugs and the targeting of at-risk groups such as prostitutes, have helped to contain the crisis. Today Brazil is cited as an example for developing countries seeking to fight Aids.
  icon paper stack View Older Articles   Back to Top