Health and Human Rights 11/2
Published December 2009
Demand for reproductive health services by people with HIV is increasing, as is the urgency of protecting and promoting their reproductive rights. The reproductive rights of Mexicans with HIV are formally protected by the constitution and by health and anti-discrimination legislation, as well as by international conventions. However, the reproductive rights of women with HIV continue to be violated in public clinics and hospitals. This paper discusses three violations identified as priority problems by Mexican women with HIV, illustrating these problems with cases identified during a participatory skills building workshop. The violations cover the following rights: the right to non-discrimination, the right to adequate information and informed consent to medical procedures, and the right to choose the number and spacing of children. Physicians can either violate or promote reproductive rights. Unfortunately, in many instances Mexican physicians continue to perpetrate reproductive rights abuses against women with HIV. Collaborations between women with HIV, civil society, government, and international organizations are needed to educate and sanction health care providers and to support women with HIV in their pursuit of reproductive rights. Demanding accountability from health care practitioners and the State to guarantee reproductive rights in countries where these rights are formally protected will improve the quality of life of people with HIV and can demonstrate that rights-based approaches are compatible with and, indeed, crucial for public health.