Human Rights Abuses Contribute to AIDS Epidemic in Kazakhstan, Report Says
Human rights abuses against people at high risk for HIV infection are contributing to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kazakhstan, according to a Human Rights Watch report scheduled to be released today, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 6/29). The 54-page report, titled "Fanning the Flames: How Human Rights Abuses are Fueling the AIDS Epidemic in Kazakhstan," documents cases of police abuse, lack of due process and harassment and stigmatization (Human Rights Watch release, 6/30). According to the report, sex workers and drug users have faced "systematic harassment" from authorities in Kazakhstan because they are seen as "easy targets" for arrest, extortion or sex. As a result, these individuals are afraid to seek HIV/AIDS treatment or prevention services. Although Human Rights Watch recognized that Kazakhstan has lifted mandatory HIV testing for some high-risk groups and stopped separating HIV-positive prisoners from general prison populations, "[g]overnment officials must stop victimizing drug abusers and help prevent discrimination against them" to "turn the epidemic around," Joanne Csete, director of the Human Rights Watch HIV/AIDS program, said. HIV is spreading rapidly in the former Soviet Union, where economic opportunity and education about how to prevent the disease are limited, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 6/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.