Guatemala – HIV Law reform generates discussion about revealing or not HIV diagnosis

cq5dam.thumbnail.460.306Should or shouldn’t you reveal your HIV diagnosis to your partner? This is one of the decisions that has aroused controversy in Guatemala during the discussion of the reform proposal of the Decree 27-2000, General Law on HIV.

In June 2013, in Guatemala began a new reform proposal of the Decree 27-2000 – General Law on HIV – in order to update it in such a way that it responds to the current national reality. The process included a series of workshops with representatives of civil society, Government and international cooperation agencies. The article referred to the revelation of the diagnosis has caused differing opinions.

Article 25 States: “of the information of the diagnosis the couple. When the individual with HIV or AIDS refuses or cannot notify their regular or casual partner of their diagnosis, the treating physician or health personnel must notify their partner, according to the procedures specified in the regulation of this law, respecting, in all times, human dignity, human rights and the confidentiality.”

Some key stakeholders considered that this article promotes violation of Human Rights. Yanira Tobar, from the Organization Mujeres en Superación, thinks the following: “women sex workers experience much violence and if we reveal our HIV diagnosis to our clients or couples, we will be at risk. (…)” “Experience has shown that by raising awareness, people are concerned about their partners and, if the individual is responsible, they use condoms, and then we don’t need to carry a banner that reads “I have HIV” (…)”

Stigma and discrimination index in Guatemala, carried out with the support of UNAIDS in 2011, reveals that from a sample of 600 people with HIV, 17.8% have undergone problems, since any health professional has ever revealed to other people their HIV-positive situation without their consent.

This situation probably prolongs the discussion within civil society and, and it will help bring a reflection about the confidentiality of diagnosis and will propose improvements around the reform proposal, which will bring better policies, projects and programs with an approach on Human Rights.