HIV and human rights

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10th 1948, there should be “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. In this section, you will think about how we can ensure that the human rights of people who are living with HIV are not violated but are upheld and respected.

When we talk about human rights in relation to HIV, there should be no exceptions and human rights should apply equally to all. The human right to health was recognised by the World Health Organisation in 2008 as being directly connected to other human rights including dignity, equality and freedom. The right to the highest attainable standard of health as a 'state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,' and as 'one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition,' was recognised in 1946 with the adoption of the Constitution of the World Health Organisation (WHO, 1948).

In 1993 when there was considerable ignorance globally about HIV and AIDS the film Philadelphia highlighted how many people living with HIV were discriminated against and had their human rights denied. Watch Paul Steinberg describe his perception of the significance of Philadelphia in raising awareness about issues of discrimination surrounding HIV. As you watch, think about how HIV is a human rights issue.

Follow up

What else can you find out about the film Philadelphia? Ask friends and family who were around in the 1990s what they remember about this film. Do they think it is still a relevant film today? Why?