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New HIV/AIDS Bill Slammed by Panamanian Human Rights Groups as “Moralistic”

LADB Article ID: 80537
Category/Department: Panama
Date: 2018-03-01
By: Louisa Reynolds

A bill on the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS put forward by Panama’s health ministry, the Ministerio de Salud, in August 2017 has drawn criticism from human rights groups, which have raised concerns over its “moralistic” and religious overtones. The health ministry says the bill was drawn up after a nine-month discussion with organizations working with people with HIV/AIDS, with the aim of updating the current legal framework, which was established in 2000. Although the bill purportedly aims to fight HIV-stigma and discrimination and ensure HIV/AIDS patients receive treatment, the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) says the bill doesn’t address the problems of the most vulnerable groups, such as men who have sex with men, transgender women, sex workers, and prisoners. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Panama has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in Central America, with 16,493 people diagnosed among its population of 3.5 million. Since 1984, 26,879 cases of HIV/AIDS have been recorded in the country. The worst affected demographic group are young people between the ages of 15 and 19.

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