New Law to Combat Discrimination Against Venezuelans with HIV/AIDS

On August 14th, the Venezuelan parliament passed a law to protect the equal rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, and their families.

By Z.C. Dutka
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Santa Elena de Uairen, August 20th 2014. (venezuelanalysis.com)- On August 14th, the Venezuelan parliament passed a law to protect the equal rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, and their families.

The law, composed of seven chapters and 41 articles, emerged from a proposal brought to the National Assembly by a group of HIV-positive Venezuelans who denounced the societal misconceptions which limit their freedom as citizens.

“They organized themselves and obtained the support of the public defender [ombudswoman Gabriela Ramirez], and the debate was brought to the National Assembly,” explained Oswaldo Vera, president of the Assembly’s Commission for Social Development.

“The wider population must understand that this sickness cannot be contracted by shaking hands with someone who is HIV positive,” Vera said during a radio broadcast on Tuesday, expressing his hopes that the media will support national efforts to eradicate this discrimination.

“The amount of misinformation causes more damage than people can imagine,” Zoraida Rodriguez, a nurse of Bolivar state, told venezuelanalysis.com.

“Many people believe that only homosexuals have HIV, and that makes patients even more reluctant to be honest about their condition, even with their healthcare professionals.”

Approximately 42,000 Venezuelans live with HIV or AIDS and are eligible to free treatment, including medicine and counseling for the patient and their family.

The new law obliges health centers to attend HIV positive ands AIDS patients without delay, limitation, or conditions, while employing the same strict measures of hygiene and security that should be the norm for all patients. It also prohibits similar discrimination in the workplace and in schools.

In a statement released yesterday morning, ombudswoman Ramirez warned, “what is potentially and fatally contagious is the lack of sensitivity regarding people with this illness,” indicating that the upcoming informative campaign will also include authentic reports on safety and precaution to avoid further spread of the virus.