Antigua and Barbuda: Treatment of people living with HIV, including access to medical treatment and the existence of help centres; state protection and recourse available to people living with HIV who are victims of discrimination or ill treatment
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Publication Date||13 October 2011|
|Citation / Document Symbol||ATG103883.FE|
|Related Document||Antigua-et-Barbuda : traitement réservé aux personnes vivant avec le VIH, y compris l'accès aux traitements médicaux, et l'existence de centres d'aide; information sur la protection et les recours offerts par l'État aux personnes vivant avec le VIH qui seraient victimes de discrimination ou de mauvais traitements|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Antigua and Barbuda: Treatment of people living with HIV, including access to medical treatment and the existence of help centres; state protection and recourse available to people living with HIV who are victims of discrimination or ill treatment, 13 October 2011, ATG103883.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50b868592.html [accessed 2 September 2015]|
According to some sources consulted by the Research Directorate, people living with HIV in Antigua and Barbuda do face "stigma" and "discrimination" (Antigua and Barbuda 19 July 2011, para. 38; Caribarena 29 May 2010; CHAA 14 Feb. 2010). In a press release published on Caribarena, a news portal based in Antigua, the executive director of the Health Hope and HIV Foundation in Antigua stated that, after having disclosed their HIV status,
persons have been disowned by family members, evicted from their homes, lost their jobs either through dismissal or quit due to unbearable acts of stigma and discrimination, their children have be stigmatized and discriminated at school and some suffered at the hands of health care professionals. (Caribarena. 29 May 2010)
According to an article published by the daily newspaper Antigua Observer, the executive director of the foundation said that people with HIV have been mistreated at hospitals and clinics (Antigua Observer 27 June 2011). She added that nurses and police officers have also discriminated against people living with HIV (ibid.).
Some sources indicate that, because of the discrimination they face, people with HIV may lose their jobs or experience difficulty in the workplace (Caribarena 1 Dec. 2010; CHAA 14 Feb. 2010). According to the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance (CHAA), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that defends people living with HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean and has an office in Antigua (CHAA n.d.), Antigua and Barbuda has no law protecting people with HIV against discrimination in the workplace (ibid.).
However, according to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010, published by the US Department of State, there were no reports of violence or discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS in 2010 (US 8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6).
Access to treatment and recourse
An article published by Caribarena says that medical care and medication are freely accessible in all member countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) (5 Aug. 2011). In a document prepared for the Universal Periodic Review of Antigua and Barbuda that was to be held on 4 October 2011 at the United Nations Human Rights Council, UNICEF also notes that anti-retroviral drugs are provided free of charge to people with HIV/AIDS in the country (UN n.d., para. 18).
However, some sources indicate that, as a result of the prejudices against people living with HIV, many are reluctant to get tested, seek medical care, or ask for help and support (CHAA 14 Feb. 2010; Caribarena 29 May 2010). A Caribarena article notes that the HIV clinical care coordinator in Antigua says that most of the people who receive treatment are foreign nationals, and that only 14 percent of patients are born in Antigua and Barbuda (ibid. 5 Aug. 2011). The article suggests that this demonstrates the reluctance of native-born Antiguans and Barbudians with HIV to seek help (ibid.).
Similarly, according to Country Reports 2010, sexual minorities claim that homophobic attitudes impair the willingness of people with HIV to obtain treatment (US 8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6). According to a report from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), in interviews conducted by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) coalition, men who have sexual relations with other men say that there are few places to go for HIV-related health services (US Mar. 2011, 11). The CVC is a coalition that works to support populations vulnerable to HIV in the Caribbean and to fight the discrimination and stigma that they face (CVC n.d.). According to the people interviewed by the CVC, only the HIV clinical care coordinator in Antigua is considered "accessible" and "safe'," but the fact that he is seen to have a strong association with HIV deters some from consulting him (US Mar. 2011, 11). According to the report, most of the interviewees who identified themselves as homosexual claim that they have been treated with scorn or ignored by health care providers and that many providers seem uncomfortable during medical exams (ibid.).
The government of Antigua and Barbuda has established an AIDS secretariat (UN n.d., para. 18; Antigua and Barbuda 19 July 2011, para. 38). According to the government of Antigua and Barbuda, the AIDS secretariat "coordinates the campaign of prevention and education, treatment and counseling" (ibid.). The government also operates an office charged with investigating reports of human rights violations against people living with HIV (ibid.; Caribarena 29 May 2010). According to the Antigua Observer, that office is part of the Ministry of Health (27 June 2011.). Country Reports 2010 indicates that "[t]he Ministry of Health supported local NGO efforts to register human rights complaints and seek assistance related to cases of discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS" (US 8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6). No additional information on the number of complaints received or the actions taken by authorities could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Antigua and Barbuda. 19 July 2011. National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 15 (a) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Antigua and Barbuda. (A/HRC/WG.6/12/ATG/1)
Antigua Observer. 27 June 2011. Tameika Malone. "Human Rights Desk Fights Cases of HIV and AIDS Discrimination by Health Workers."
Caribarena. 5 August 2011. "Safe Sex Message Not Being Swallowed."
_____. 1 December 2010. "HIV Discrimination Still A Problem."
_____. 29 May 2010. Karen Brotherson. "Human Rights and HIV."
Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance (CHAA). 14 February 2010. "Man Who Confessed to Infecting over 90 Men with HIV."
_____. N.d. "Antigua Country Office."
Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC). N.d. "Home."
United Nations (UN). N.d. United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Universal Periodic Review - Human Rights Council: UNICEF Inputs - Antigua And Barbuda.
United States (US). March 2011. United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Men Who Have Sex with Men and HIV in the Anglophone Caribbean: A Situation Review.
_____. 8 April 2011. Department of State. "Antigua and Barbuda." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Attempts to contact representatives of the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities were unsuccessful.
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; AVERT; The Body; European Country of Origin Information Network; Freedom House; The Global Forum on MSM & HIV; Global Voices; Human Rights Watch; International HIV/AIDS Alliance; Kaiser Family Foundation; United Nations — Integrated Regional Information Networks, Refworld.