The editorial introduces the special issue of the journal that incorporates papers originally presented at the "Public Health and Human Rights" conference held at the Monash Prato Centre, Italy, in June 2007. It identifies the intersection between public health and human rights; access to health care services, particularly for marginalised groups such as indigenous peoples and persons with mental illnesses; and the role of international instruments in encouraging states parties to implement and monitor compliance with these rights.
Public health and human rights often used to be seen as incompatible frameworks for action. HIV/AIDS was supposed to break that mould and be the epidemic where respecting human rights would be the most effective way to achieve the public health goal of conquering the epidemic. In this article, Joanne Csete suggests that while in theory everybody buys into the effectiveness of rights-based approaches to HIV/AIDS, the practice leaves much to be desired. The author describes the human rights framework that is the foundation for a more effective response to HIV/AIDS and stresses the urgency of paying more than lip service to the need to put human rights at the centre of the fight against HIV/AIDS in Canada and beyond.
A survey conducted in 2004 by the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV found that HIV-related rights violations are widespread in Ukrainian society, and that many people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) are ignorant of the provisions of HIV/AIDS-related legislation.
A survey of people with HIV/AIDS in Alberta suggests that there are serious deficiencies in the provision of pre- and post-test counselling to people undergoing HIV-antibody testing. Survey respondents also identified human rights abuses in employment, housing, and other areas.
Respecting, protecting ,and fulfilling the human rights of people living with, and vulnerable to, HIV/AIDS has been recognized as an essential element of ethical and effective responses to the epidemic. Human rights law provides one critical tool for implementing a human rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS. Freedom from discrimination is a foundational human rights principle, and is a touchstone of both international and domestic human rights law. This article examines the ways in which Canadian law currently protects people against discrimination based on HIV/AIDS status. The article also reviews the equality rights provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; federal, provincial, and territorial anti-discrimination statutes and policies; and some of the key cases that have applied and developed these legislative protections. Finally, the article looks at the issue of remedies for discrimination under Canadian law. (Other forms of discrimination relevant to people living with HIV/AIDS--specifically, discrimination based on grounds relevant to people from groups disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS-related stigma--will be analyzed in similar detail in a future issue of the Review.)