Health and Human Rights 11/1
Published June 2009
The common assertion that Cuba’s achievements in HIV/AIDS control have come at a cost in human rights is reinforced by US hostility toward its small neighbor. Nevertheless, a rights-based analysis may be one useful way of examining the actual Cuban experience. By reference to the United Nation’s Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, this paper examines the Cuban experience as it relates to the themes of quarantine and personal freedom; privacy in testing and tracing; education, participation, and non-discrimination; and the availability of AIDS treatment. The paper concludes that Cuba’s quarantine period was unnecessarily prolonged in the late 1980s but that this prolonged quarantine did not target men who have sex with men. Testing and tracing procedures in Cuba follow a standard protocol, but they are more thorough than elsewhere. Cuba has strengthened participation in education programs, and treatment is now the best in the Caribbean region. The human rights implications of HIV programs must be considered in an integrated way. Selective criticisms of the Cuban program have not improved international understanding of HIV/AIDS treatment in Cuba.