Thursday, December 10, 2009

Medical Care is a human right

For this year's Human Rights Day I want to draw people's attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration clearly guarantees the right to health and medical care. The same article also declares the right of mothers and children to special care and assistance.

Article 25.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  • (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
(You can read the declaration online at
Some countries do a wonderful job of providing these rights, others do not. In the US we barely meet these obligations. People are entitled to life-saving medical treatments, but not with care to promote and maintain health. Mothers and children do get some special care through SCHIP, and other state programs, but this assistance is very meager and many families suffer.

The US needs to provide health care (not just emergency disease care) to everyone. Why are we having a debate about this issue? It is our obligation to the citizens of the world to work to insure that human rights are met. The right to health care was clearly articulated over 60 years ago.

I urge you to spread this information to everyone you know. Have discussions with people about what you think this right guarantees. Attend demonstrations, blog, write letters!

Find out candidates opinions on health care. Talk to your elected officials about health care. Check their voting records! Do they support the meager legislation that we have, or have they repeatedly rejected renewing SCHIP? What about maternity leave? If their actions don't match their words, don't re-elect them!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It will never happen to me

It will never happen to me. I'm straight, and so is my partner. We don't do IV drugs and we're monogamous.

We were together for 5 years. We tried having a baby and then things fell apart. Now I've met someone new. My partner wants me to get an HIV test before we have sex. What's the point? I know that I'm not infected...

It's been a while since I've done the whole condom thing. I went to buy condoms and discovered that the lambskin ones don't protect against sexually transmitted infections. Who knew?! What's the point of a condom that doesn't stop the spread of HIV?

Today I am Facing AIDS for World AIDS Day. Today I remember all who are infected without knowing they are at risk. The above stories highlight many of the ways people unknowingly put themselves at risk. There are so many people who assume that heterosexual serial monogamy will protect them. Others use lambskin condoms, assuming that all condoms prevent the spread of HIV.

In most cities, the only non-latex condoms that grocery stores sell are lambskin. People with latex allergies have very little choice. Luckily, public health departments and internet retailers can provide fairly easy access to non-latex condoms that do prevent the spread of HIV and other STIs.

How many people go without HIV testing between relationships? Serial monogamy does not prevent HIV transmission. Everyone should have an HIV test at the end and beginning of every relationship. I don't care if you're 12, or 92. Do it for your partner.

To find an HIV test site, text your ZIP to “KNOWIT" (566948), or visit On this World AIDS Day join me in facing AIDS for yourself, your partner, and your community. Together we can fight AIDS.
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