India to Impose Mandatory HIV Testing of Pregnant Women?

Jodi Jacobson

A news report indicates that India, a country in which more women die during pregnancy and childbirth than any other country in the world, and whose government has persistently neglected women's health and rights, has apparently now decided to impose mandatory testing of pregnant women to ensure an "AIDS-free generation."

India, a country in which more women die during pregnancy and childbirth than any other country in the world, and whose government has persistently neglected women’s health and rights, has apparently now decided to impose mandatory testing of pregnant women to ensure an "AIDS-free generation."

 

ProKerala.com reports a parliamentary forum on HIV and AIDS declared on Friday that "Passing AIDS from mother to child is a human rights violation and soon all pregnant women in India will have to undergo a mandatory HIV test."

“We want a HIV free generation. We are for testing all pregnant women for HIV so that no children can be born with the disease,” Oscar Fernandes, head of the Parliamentary Forum on HIV and AIDS, told IANS.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

“Passing the disease to a new born is a human rights violation. This should stop and all of us must try to make this a success,” Fernandes reportedly said.

Oh.

India is home to at least 2.5 million HIV positive people and
thousands of babies are born with HIV positive status as they acquire
the virus while in their mother’s womb.

Sexual transmission of HIV is the leading cause of new infections in India (and indeed the single leading cause of HIV worldwide).  In fact, women now represent the majority of those infected with HIV worldwide.

Since the majority of women infected with HIV in India contract the virus through sex with their husbands or primary partners, and since mandatory testing puts the onus and stigma on women in a country where people are still killed in or banished from some villages when found to be or suspected of being HIV positive, I am not clear whose rights are being violated here, nor how mandatory testing of pregnant women absent many other conditions will produce an AIDS-free generation.

Moreover, what about the men who infected the women in the first place? Are they free to just go on have sex with, infecting and impregnating the same or other women?  Is the purpose of this to get infected women treatment?

Mandatory testing of anyone is a human rights violation, but when it focuses on women alone, it compounds the lifelong and societal discrimination against women often responsible for higher rates of HIV among women in the first place.

ProKerala says that, Fernandes, "appreciated across the country for advocating a
better life for AIDS patients," said:

The new born should not suffer
lifelong without committing any sin. Why should they suffer? Isn’t it a
human rights violation?

Once again, the notion of original sin creeps into public health policy….and exactly what sin do women infected by HIV commit?  Having sex with their husbands?  

And once again, women are made out to be the "vectors" of disease.

Reportedly this policy is supported by UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe Thursday and discussed the issue with him.

According to ProKerala, Sidibe said:

‘India must produce a generation without HIV’. This is possible if we go for detecting the virus in every single pregnant women before delivery.”

Moreover, India plans to put this effort into the hands of "panchayats," local councils more often than not run and controlled by (upper caste) men and to give money to these bodies for the testing.  The possibilities for coercion and corruption are endless.

More to come on this as we investigate further.

News Politics

Rep. Steve King: What Have People Of Color Contributed to Civilization?

Ally Boguhn

King came under fire this month after local news station KCAU aired footage showing that the Iowa representative keeps a Confederate flag displayed on his desk.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Monday questioned what “contributions” people of color have made to civilization while appearing on an MSNBC panel during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

King’s comments came during a discussion on racial diversity within the Republican Party in which fellow panelist Charles P. Pierce said, “If you’re really optimistic, you can say this was the last time that old white people would command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, its public face.”

“That [convention] hall is wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people,” Pierce added.

“This ‘old white people’ business though does get a little tired, Charlie,” King responded. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

“Than white people,” Hayes attempted to clarify.

“Than Western civilization itself,” King said. “It’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

Another panelist, reporter April Ryan, countered “What about Asia? What about Africa?” before the panel broke out into disarray. Hayes moved to cut off the group, telling them, “We’re not going to argue the history of civilization.”

“Let me note for the record that if you’re looking at the ledger of Western civilization, for every flourishing democracy you’ve got Hitler and Stalin as well,” Hayes said. “So there’s a lot on both sides.”

Hayes justified abruptly ending the conversation about King’s comments in a series of tweets, saying that he had been “pretty taken aback by” the comments.

“The entire notion of debating which race/civilization/ ‘sub group’ contributed most or is best is as odious as it is preposterous,” Hayes tweeted. “Which is why I said ‘we’re not debating this here.’ But I hear people who think I made the wrong call in the moment. Maybe I did.”

King came under fire this month after local news station KCAU aired footage showing that the Iowa representative keeps a Confederate flag displayed on his desk. King, speaking with Iowa talk radio host Jeff Angelo, defended keeping the flag in his office.

“This is a free country and there’s freedom of speech,” King said, according to Right Wing Watch. “And, by the way, I’d encourage people to go back and read the real history of the Civil War and find out what it was about. A small part of it was about slavery, but there was a big part of it that was about states’ rights, it was about people that defended their homeland and fought next to their neighbors and their family.”

As the Washington Post’s Philip Bump explained in a report on King’s comments, “there have been a great number of non-white contributions to human civilization.”

“Civilization first arose in cities in Mesopotamia, in what is now Iraq and Syria. Arabic and Middle Eastern inventors and scientists brought astronomy to the world, which in turn aided innovations in navigation,” Bump wrote. “Critical innovations in mathematics and architecture originated in the same area. The Chinese contributed philosophical precepts and early monetary systems, among other things. The specific inventions that were created outside of the Western world are too many to list: the seismograph, the umbrella, gunpowder, stirrups, the compass.”

News Politics

Coalition Warns of Trump-Pence Ticket’s ‘Hateful’ Record

Ally Boguhn

“Let’s be clear, the Trump-Pence ticket is the gravest threat the LGBTQ community has ever faced in a presidential election,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

A coalition of leaders from reproductive rights, LGBTQ, labor, and Latino organizations joined together Friday to speak on the political and legislative records of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and his newly announced running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN).

“Today Donald Trump doubled down on his hateful anti-LGBTQ agenda by choosing [as] a running mate … a man who has made attacking the rights and dignity of LGBT people a cornerstone of his political career,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, during a press call hosted by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Speaking after news broke that Pence would join Trump’s ticket, Griffin outlined the many ways Pence had previously threatened the well-being of LGBTQ Americans, including voting against nondiscrimination efforts, signing a so-called religious freedom bill in the state, and opposing marriage equality

“Let’s be clear, the Trump-Pence ticket is the gravest threat the LGBTQ community has ever faced in a presidential election,” said Griffin.  

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that Pence’s selection was “proof positive” that the presumptive Republican nominee was moving to surround himself with “extreme ideologues,” adding that Pence had a track record of enforcing much of the anti-choice rhetoric Trump has wielded during his run for president. 

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

“Donald Trump has promised to defund Planned Parenthood. Mike Pence actually led multiple efforts to shut down the government just so he could defund Planned Parenthood,” said Hogue. “As governor, he slashed funding for reproductive health-care clinics like Planned Parenthood to such a degree that it resulted in a public health crisis, with an uptick in HIV infections in rural areas of Indiana.”

“Donald Trump said … that he would punish women who had abortions. Under Mike Pence’s watch as governor, Purvi Patel … has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting a home abortion,” continued Hogue.

“We now have two men in the race who don’t seem to get that women are half the workforce, and breadwinners in their families” said Liz Shuler, the secretary-treasurer of workers’ rights organization the AFL-CIO, in response to Pence’s selection. Shuler explained that Pence had voted against equal pay efforts such as the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act while in the U.S. House.

Pence also repealed Indiana’s construction wage law, which set a minimum wage for workers on public construction projects, “taking money directly out of the pockets of construction workers,” said Shuler. She compared Pence’s stance on labor issues to similar positions taken by Trump, who has previously claimed wages are “too high” and supports right-to-work laws, which as Rewire has previously reported, “have had negative effects on wages, income, and access to health care for people who work in states that have seen legislators attack collective bargaining.”

Martín Garcia, director of campaigns for the Latino Victory Project, worried about a Trump-Pence ticket’s impact on “Latinos across the country.” Garcia warned that Trump’s plan to deport 11 million people would “tear families and communities apart” and that his proposed border wall could “cost taxpayers millions of dollars.” He added that such policies would be in line with Pence’s rhetoric and policymaking.

During his time in Congress, Pence co-sponsored a measure which would have changed the rules on birthright citizenship, limiting it “to children born to at least one parent who is a citizen, immigrants living permanently in the U.S., or non-citizens performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces,” according to ABC’s Indianapolis affiliate RTV6.