Australia law makers challenge discriminatory practices against HIV adoption

Legal groups in Australia are working to make adopting children with HIV and other special needs less discriminatory by removing unnecessary legal barriers that are daunting to most adoptive families. The full article on this can be found at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/01/16/hiv-adoption-rules-marred-discrimination

HIV Cheat Sheet – The Stigma Project

I love this for it’s simplicity and yet effectiveness – a great resource!

Cheat Sheet_The Stigma Project

If you’d like to see more, check out The Stigma Project at: http://www.thestigmaproject.org/

10 Curious Questions about HIV Transmission in 2013

The Body recently compiled a list of the most “curious” questions asked throughout 2013 users had posted to its “Ask the Experts” forum. And while we can all agree it is better to have people asking these questions than just making their own assumptions, they are certainly…interesting! My personal favorite – number 7 – Can I give HIV to myself?

Check out the answer and read the other 9 questions here: http://www.thebody.com/content/73340/10-curious-questions-asked-about-hiv-transmission-.html?getPage=1

Getting to Zero – World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is coming up on December 1st, and most cities and smaller centres are planning events to commemorate the day, and also to kick off Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week. The first World AIDS Day was held in 1988; with the 2013 theme being “Getting to Zero” – Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths.

As always, CATIE has compiled a comprehensive list of resources, article, an AIDS timeline, and a list of events being held throughout Canada. Visit http://www.catie.ca/en/world-aids-day to see what is happening near you.

Mother’s Day Gift that Makes a Difference

WHAT IS THIS ABOUT:

This is a fundraising project being organized by a friend of mine who brought her daughter home from Ethiopia over 1.5 years ago. She is planning a return trip to Ethiopia this coming October with Canadian Humanitarian`s expedition team!

From Tracey:

Canadian Humanitarian (CHOIR), is a non-profit organization that has a variety of projects that supports children and families in Addis, the capital of Ethiopia and other rural areas. Initiatives such as child sponsorship, along with medical and educational progrmas have a significant and positive impact on lhe lives of the children and families in Ethiopia. You can learn more about them at Canadianhumanitarian.com. They are truly amazing!

I will be apart of the a Canadian Humanitarian Expedition team traveling to Ethiopia for 2 weeks in October to volunteer our time and skills to a variety of their projects. I am currently fundraising for this expedition. Funds raised go towards travel expenses and a sizable donation to the projects! Canadian Humanitarian uses funds raised to support the programs!

HAND MADE ETHIOPIAN NECKLACES WITH A TWIST:

The twist is that a person`s single contribution will work hard by actually supporting two organizations, both of whom are working hard in Ethiopia; Mission Ethiopia and Canadian Humanitarian. I custom ordered the necklaces from Mission Ethiopia (missionethiopia.com). Their jewelry program supports empowerment through sustainable jobs for women in Ethiopia. The women who craft these beautiful necklaces benefit directly from their employment. Then, the funds raised from the necklaces will inturn be used by Canadian Humanitarian to support their expedition work in Ethiopia! So, purchasing a necklace or two helps two organizations, having twice the impact in Ethiopia!

ABOUT THE NECKLACES:

As you can see from the photos below, the necklaces are one-of-a-kind and well-crafted. They are really beautiful!

They are hand made by Ethiopian women, and there are four to choose from:

1) Ethiopian Cross- black clay beads, Ethiopian cross, 18 inches long

2) Lots of Swirls – swirl paper beads, clear spacers, 29 inches long *note – photo shows a much longer double strand, this is a single strand.

3) Spring Fun – bright colour paper beads, black and white spacers, 29 inches long

4) One Can Make A Difference- Black clay beads, single red bead, nickel spacers, 29 inches long

THESE WOULD MAKE FABULOUS MOTHER’S DAY PRESENTS!

COST: You get to determine how much you would like to purchase a necklace for! The minimum is $25 per necklace (plus $3 for postage if you would like them mailed to you).

HOW TO ORDER: If you would like to order a necklace, just email me your order to hedges6805@rogers.com and we can arrange payment (cheques are perfectly fine) and delivery.

ORDERS NEED TO BE RECEIVED BY MAY 15TH!

If you would like to make a cash donation instead of purchasing a necklace, that is also a great option (and a tax receipt can be issued).
If you are not interested, that is okay, at least you have learned about two really neat organizations making a difference in Ethiopia.

Thanks so much for any support ! I am so looking forward to returning to Ethiopia and working with the families and children!

Ethiopian Cross

Lots of Swirls

One Can Make A Difference

Spring Fun

Upcoming Information Evening – Adopting a Child Living with HIV

An Information Evening presented by The Children’s Bridge Adoption Consultants

Adopting a Child Living with HIV

Saturday, April 20th, 2013 in Mississauga, Ontario

Join us from 6:30 – 8:30pm!

Learn More About: basic facts such as: HIV transmission, treatment and risks, parenting a child living with HIV, psycho-social issues such as stigma, discrimination and disclosure, anti-retroviral treatments including information regarding provincial drug plans and insurance. Come away with knowledge regarding resources and supports for families within Ontario, as well as details regarding the adoption process, such as which countries/programs are available, the citizenship and immigration process, and including HIV in your homestudy.

Please note: This event is open to any families planning to adopt a child living with HIV, and not just those families in process with The Children’ Bridge.

For more information or to register please go to: http://www.childrensbridge.com/pages/upcomingevents.html

Expectations and Realities: Parenting an Adopted Child with Special Needs – Live Webinar

Expectations and Realities: Parenting an Adopted Child with Special Needs – Live Webinar

Thursday, January 17, 2013
7:00PM Central
Q&A: 8:00PM

http://www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/catalog/webinars/expectations-and-realities-parenting-an-adopted-child-with-special-needs.cfm

Is your child emotionally acting much younger than their age? Have special needs you weren’t expecting? Behaviors that resemble ADHD?

You are not alone. These challenges are common for post- institutionalized children. Finding help, however, can be difficult.

Join a webinar featuring Martha Osborne, adopted person, adoptive mom and founder of the largest special needs adoption advocacy website, RainbowKids.com. Martha will lead an “in the trenches” discussion on how parents can get connected and supported.

•Learn how to build a plan to manage undiagnosed special needs
•Consider new, outside the box suggestions on how to address unexpected cognitive and emotional delays
•Understand how proactive parenting can help

Live Webinar on Thursday, January 17, 2013. To learn more or to register, click here.

What New in the World of Children and HIV

Teresa Group: “Putting the Pieces Together” is a montage of photos and interviews from the Children and HIV: Closing the Gap – Ending Vertical Transmission through Community Action Symposium, jointly hosted by The Teresa Group, the Coalition on Children Affected by AIDS (CCABA), and the Global Fund for Children, held in Washington D.C. on July 20th and 21st, 2012. The montage can be viewed at: http://www.teresagroup.ca/gallery_washington.html

For a list of the services the Teresa Group offers to families affected by HIV/AIDS, please see: https://teresagr.ipower.com/programs.html

Criminal Law and HIV Non-Disclosure: A response to the October 2012 Supreme Court of Canada Ruling

http://www.actoronto.org/home.nsf/pages/act.docs.2333

November 2012

On October 5, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada released important decisions in two cases of HIV non-disclosure. Rather than clarifying its earlier ruling (R. v. Cuerrier, 1998) that people living with HIV/AIDS had a legal duty to disclose their HIV status before having sex posing a “significant risk” of serious bodily harm (i.e. HIV transmission), this new decision now requires that people must disclose their HIV-positive status before having sexual relations that pose a “realistic possibility” of HIV transmission. But the Court also found that almost any risk is “realistic,” no matter how small. Additional confusion surrounds the fact that the cases before the Supreme Court only dealt with HIV non-disclosure in the context of vaginal sex; it is not clear how the test of a “realistic possibility of transmission” will be applied to other sexual acts such as oral or anal sex.

ACT continues to believe that criminal law is an ineffective and inappropriate tool with which to address HIV non-disclosure. HIV/AIDS is an individual and public health issue first and foremost, and should be addressed as such. Criminal charges do little or nothing to stem the spread of HIV, but do divert resources and attention away from the policies and initiatives that have been proven to reduce HIV transmission and improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Given the most recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling, and the increased number of criminal charges and prosecutions related to HIV non-disclosure in Canada, ACT supports the establishment of prosecutorial guidelines for HIV non-disclosure. Such guidelines should be informed by current scientific evidence and take into account the objectives of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support – and should ensure that criminal charges are only laid when warranted. Decisions by Crown Counsel under prosecutorial guidelines would influence the charges that police lay, whether a case goes to court and how a case is presented in court.

Background:

In its 1998 decision in R. v. Cuerrier, the Court decided that people living with HIV/AIDS had a legal duty to disclose their HIV status before having sex posing a “significant risk” of serious bodily harm (i.e., HIV transmission). The Court further suggested that the use of condoms may reduce the risks of HIV transmission such that there may be no duty to disclose; however, they did not definitively decide on this issue. Since that time, a majority of the decisions of lower courts that considered this issue — including the Court of Appeal of Manitoba in R. v. Mabior — ruled that condom-use alone was enough to preclude criminal liability. Yet, in too many other cases, scientific evidence on HIV risks of transmission was disregarded. Some people were charged and/or convicted in cases where the risk of transmission was exceedingly low (e.g., oral sex). The “significant risk” test adopted in Cuerrier resulted in a great deal of uncertainty and unfairness for people living with HIV/AIDS.

In R. v. Mabior and R. v. D.C., the Supreme Court of Canada had the opportunity to clarify the law in accordance with the current science of HIV transmission and treatment. Unfortunately, it did not. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on October 5, 2012 that people living with HIV/AIDS must disclose their status before having sexual relations that pose a “realistic possibility” of HIV transmission. But in the Court’s view, a “realistic possibility” encompasses almost any risk, no matter how small.

Based on the Court’s decisions, people living with HIV/AIDS now have a legal duty to disclose their status before:

▪ having vaginal sex without a condom (regardless of their viral load); or
▪ having vaginal sex with anything higher than a “low” viral load (even if they use a condom).

The court defined a “low viral load” as having less than 1,500 copies of the virus per millilitre of blood. The Court did not consider either anal sex or oral sex in its ruling. Anal sex poses higher risks of transmission than vaginal sex, so the duty to disclose is at least as strict as for vaginal sex. In other words, you have a duty to disclose before having unprotected anal sex or when your viral load is higher than “low.” According to the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, it might be the case that, as with vaginal sex, if you use a condom and your viral load is low you do not have a legal duty to disclose. But at this time, we can’t say for certain if satisfying both these requirements (condom use plus a low viral load) will be enough to avoid convictions in the case of anal sex. 1

Oral sex (without a condom) is usually considered very low risk (i.e., an estimated risk ranging from 0 to 0.04%). We don’t know at this point whether courts will find that there is a duty to disclose before oral sex without a condom. We also do not know whether it makes a legal difference if you are receiving or performing oral sex, or whether the amount of semen or vaginal fluid that the person performing oral sex is exposed to can make a legal difference 2.

ACT continues to believe that criminal law is an ineffective and inappropriate tool with which to address HIV non-disclosure. HIV/AIDS is an individual and public health issue first and foremost, and should be addressed as such. With this recent ruling, people with inadequate access to care, treatment and support may not be able to establish a low viral load. If they do not or cannot disclose their status — due to fear of violence or other negative consequences — they may face criminal prosecution, imprisonment and sexual offender registration.

Criminal charges do little or nothing to stem the spread of HIV, but do divert resources and attention away from the policies and initiatives that have been proven to reduce HIV transmission and improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS (e.g., education, testing, support services, access to safer sex and harm reduction materials, and programs to address stigma, discrimination, poverty and violence).

Most people living with HIV/AIDS practice safe sex and safe drug use, and/or disclose their HIV-positive status to their sexual and/or drug-using partners. It is everyone’s responsibility, whether they know their HIV status or not, to ensure that HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are not transmitted. Criminalization disproportionately places the responsibility for preventing HIV transmission on people living with HIV/AIDS.

The use of the criminal law as a response to non-disclosure fails to acknowledge the significance of factors such as awareness about HIV, homophobia, sexism, racism, HIV stigma and discrimination, and other social determinants of health that impact on an individual’s ability to take HIV prevention precautions and/or to disclose their status.

Given the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling, and the increased number of criminal charges and prosecutions related to HIV non-disclosure in Canada, ACT supports the establishment of evidence‐informed prosecutorial guidelines. 3

These guidelines should be informed by current scientific evidence and take into account the objectives of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support – and should ensure that criminal charges are only laid when warranted. The provincial Attorney General issues prosecutorial guidelines to assist Crown Counsel in making decisions and to promote high standards and consistency in how criminal cases are handled. Prosecutorial guidelines for case of HIV non-disclosure would provide the overall philosophy, direction and priorities of the Attorney General and set out detailed practice guidance for Crown Counsel. Decisions by Crown Counsel under prosecutorial guidelines would influence the charges that police lay, whether a case goes to court, and how a case is presented in court.

1. HIV non-disclosure and criminal law: Implications of recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions for people living with HIV. Canadian HIV AIDS Legal Network: http://www.aidslaw.ca/publications/interfaces/downloadFile.php?ref=2085

2. Ibid

3. Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure: http://ontarioaidsnetwork.on.ca/clhe

Terminology

Here are some examples of derogatory or inaccurate terms, together with suggestions of alternative terms and phrases:

USE: HIV INFECTION, HIV POSITIVE, HIV/AIDS

DON’T USE: “AIDS” IF THE INTENTION IS TO REFER TO HIV
AIDS is a range of conditions which occur when a person’s immune system is seriously damaged by HIV infection. Someone who has HIV infection has antibodies to the virus but may not have developed any of the illnesses which constitute AIDS.

DON’T USE: AIDS VIRUS, HIV VIRUS
There is no such thing as the AIDS virus. There is only HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) – the virus that can cause AIDS. The term “HIV virus” actually means Human Immunodeficiency Virus virus, which is not correct.

USE: PERSON WITH HIV OR PERSON LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS (PHA) OR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS (PHAs)

DON’T USE: AIDS VICTIM OR SUFFERER
Many people living with HIV/AIDS feel these terms imply they are powerless, with no control over their lives.

DON’T USE: AIDS CARRIER
This term is highly offensive and stigmatizing to many people with HIV and AIDS. It is also incorrect: the infective agent is HIV. You can’t just catch AIDS. This term may also give the impression that people can protect themselves choosing a partner based on their appearance or by avoiding someone who they know has AIDS.

USE: PERSON WITH AIDS, OR PERSON WITH HIV INFECTION

DON’T USE: FULL BLOWN AIDS
This term implies there is such a thing as “half-blown AIDS”. A person only has AIDS when they present with an AIDS-defining illness such as an opportunistic infection.

USE: AFFECTED COMMUNITIES, HIGH RISK BEHAVIOUR (UNSAFE SEX, SHARING NEEDLES)

DON’T USE: HIGH RISK GROUP
This implies that membership of a particular group, rather than behaviour, is the significant factor in HIV commission. This term may lull people who don’t identify with a high risk group into a false sense of security. It is high risk behaviours such as unsafe sex or unsafe injecting practices that can spread HIV, not high risk groups.

USE: PEOPLE WITH MEDICALLY ACQUIRED HIV OR AIDS, CHILDREN WITH HIV OR HIV POSITIVE PEOPLE

DON’T USE: INNOCENT VICTIMS
Usually used to describe HIV positive children or people with medically acquired HIV infection (through blood transfusions etc). It wrongly implies that people infected in other ways are guilty of some wrong-doing and somehow deserving of punishment. This feeds discrimination, particularly homophobia, and should be avoided.

USE: For your country, i.e. Sri Lanka or Jamaica, use: SRI LANKAN POPULATION/JAMAICAN POPULATION, HIV NEGATIVE PEOPLE, ALL SRI LANKANS/ALL JAMAICANS

DON’T USE: GENERAL POPULATION
This implies that people in the populations targeted for HIV prevention, education and care are not part of the general population. It artificially divides the world into those who are infected, or at risk of HIV infection and those who are not, and falsely implies that identity, rather than behaviour, is the critical factor in HIV transmission.

USE: BLOOD, SEMEN, PRE-EJACULATE, VAGINAL FLUIDS, BREAST MILK

DON’T USE: BODY FLUIDS
Confusion about the body fluids that can transmit HIV is a common cause of fear and misunderstanding about HIV and continues to cause discrimination against PHAs. Always explain which body fluids contain HIV in sufficient concentration to be implicated in HIV transmission (i.e. blood, semen, pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluids and breast milk). HIV cannot be transmitted through body fluids such as saliva, sweat, tears or urine.

USE: PERSON LIVING WITH HIV OR AIDS, HIV POSITIVE PERSON

DON’T USE: AIDS PATIENT
Use “AIDS patient” only to describe someone who has AIDS and who is, in the context of the story, in a medical setting. Most of the time, a PHA is not in the role of a patient.

USE: SEX WORKER

DON’T USE: PROSTITUTE
Prostitute is considered a disparaging term and does not reflect the fact that sex work is a form of employment for a sex worker, not a way of life.

USE: STREET WORKER

DON’T USE: STREET WALKER
Again, the term street walker does not represent the employment aspect of sex work, and is therefore derogatory and misleading.

USE: PERSON WHO INJECTS DRUGS, PEOPLE WHO INJECT DRUGS, INJECTION DRUG USER

DON’T USE: JUNKIE, DRUG ADDICT
Illicit drug use is only one part of an injection drug user’s life. Terms such as junkie rely on a stereotyped image which is not accurate.

Adopting a Child Living with HIV – Information Evening

Don’t miss this special event!

On Saturday, April 14th, 2012
Adopting a Child Living with HIV
An Information Evening presented
by The Children’s Bridge

This information evening is aimed at providing information to those who are considering, or are already in process of adopting a child living with HIV, or for family and/or friends of the adopting family who wish to learn more. This event will also be useful to adoption practitioners, or those in the field who will be working closely and supporting families parenting a child lving with HIV. Please note: This event is open to any families planning to adopt a child living with HIV, and not just those families in process with The Children’ Bridge.

Special Guest Speaker: Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik -
Masai Centre, Guelph, HIV/AIDS pediatrician)
When: Saturday, April 14th, 2012, 7:00PM to 9:00PM

Where: Holiday Inn, 2565 Argentia Road, Mississauga, Ontario

Suggested Donation: $10/person or $20/family to the Bracelet of Hope
Foundation: http://www.braceletofhope.ca

RSVP: by April 6th, 2012 – Karyn Bakelaar (Program Manager HIV & Kids Adoption Program) – karyn.bakelaar@childrensbridge.com

CB_HIVinfoSessGTA_14April2012

Agents of Change

If you are looking for something to inspire you (and who isn’t in the dark month of February!), I highly suggest checking out “Celebrating Agents of Change in the HIV/AIDS Community” – an online publication which highlights leaders and activists such as Dr. Zadjlik (Bracelet of Hope/Masai Centre) and Dr. Kilby (Canada Africa Community Health Alliance).

Click here for the online version:

http://content.yudu.com/A1rtqz/agentsofchange/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.braceletofhope.ca%2Fhome%2F

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