Summer 2004

South African and Australian High Court Justices Submit Testimonials on AIDS-related Stigma and Discrimination

Stigma and discrimination against people with HIV or AIDS are among the greatest challenges to controlling HIV/AIDS domestically and internationally, often obstructing access to employment, health care, and housing opportunities and driving vulnerable populations away from crucial testing and treatment or prevention services.

Recognizing that open and honest dialogue about HIV/AIDS is perhaps the most effective way to combat stigma and discrimination, the ABA AIDS Coordinating Committee launched a "Testimonials Project on AIDS-related Stigma and Discrimination" in observance of World AIDS Day 2003 (December 1). Since then, several lawyers and advocates for people with HIV/AIDS, some of whom are HIV-positive themselves, have submitted testimonials describing their personal experiences in combating HIV/AIDS.

Among contributors to the Project are Justices Edwin Cameron and Michael Kirby of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa and the High Court of Australia, respectively. In "The Decision to Choose Openness," Justice Cameron describes his decision to announce publicly his HIV-positive status and his advocacy on behalf of all Africans who lack access to the life-saving drugs that are available to him. In "The Curious Empowerment of AIDS," Justice Kirby chronicles the early days of the epidemic, his loss of several friends to AIDS, and his decision to confront the epidemic as an openly gay man. These and other testimonials may be read by visiting the Committee's website at www.abanet.org/AIDS.

The Testimonials Project is ongoing and posts new testimonials as they are received. To submit one, please contact Michael Pates, Director of the ABA AIDS Coordination Project (tel.: 202/662-1025; e-mail: patesm@staff. abanet.org).

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