Sunday, June 16, 2013

Latin America's CORV calls for Rights of Older Persons and an end to Elder Abuse

Dear Global Action on Aging Friend,

Latin Americans are making vigorous efforts to end elder abuse throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  I think you will be interested in reading their materials. . .wherever you live.  Here is statement that CORV prepared for the June 15th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
1. In our meeting as a civil society held in Costa Rica in 2012 we expressed that "the
rights of older persons continue to be violated. Actions in relation to older persons
and aging lack coherence between the speech that emphasizes these rights and the
compliance thereof. In this context, older persons continue to suffer from multiple
discrimination; different types of abuse and violence, poverty, and lack of access

to justice "  (Declaration of Tres Rios, par. No. 1).

2. One year since our meeting, in which we agreed to move from plan to action, we
MALTREATMENT OF OLDER PERSONS, recognizing health as a human
right and not a commodity. Each time attention is postponed, medication is not
provided, or access to required health services is denied, an assault is committed on
the lives of older persons and international agreements that demand priority and
proper and timely attention be given are violated. THE VIOLATION OF OUR
3.  The lack of income, low pensions, non-recognition or not granting of universal
pension and non-indexation of pensions to the cost of living is one of the worst
forms of discrimination and reproduction of poverty among older persons. It is
inconsistent that in legislative frameworks the aged over sixty years are
recognized, while for providing non-contributory pension the age is set at sixty-five.
In this case it is an abuse that comes from the political, administrative and
legislative institutions themselves, which is identified as STRUCTURAL ABUSE.

4.  It is a violation of the rights of older persons not to have an adequate standard
of living that guarantees them and their family, health, wellbeing, and in particular
food, clothing, housing, medical care, the necessary social services, the right to
security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or
other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond their control. (Art 25. Declaration
of Human Rights).
If you wish to learn more or sign on to this Statement, contact Enrique Mac Iver in Santiago, Chile, at this phone number (56-2) 633 0032 in Chile or at E-mail: 


Coordinación Regional de Organismos de la Sociedad Civil
de América Latina y el Caribe sobre Envejecimiento, CORV


5. We note that our countries have already signed three international agreements aimed at full recognition of the elderly, which are the Regional Strategy on Aging
(2003), the Declaration of Brasilia (2007) and the Charter of San Jose on the rights
of older persons in Latin America and the Caribbean (2012). However, these
agreements have not been translated in facilitating real ways of participation of older personsand their organizations in decision-making at all levels, as indicated in the actions recommended in the Madrid Action Plan on Aging (2002) and reaffirmed in the cited agreements. The failure to consider the will and existence of older persons and civil society institutions, devoted to working for the rights of older persons, is a kind of discrimination that reveals another form of abuse, structural abuse.

6. On the occasion of World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day 2013 as theRegional Coordinator of Civil Society Organizations on aging and old
age, CORV, we express our solidarity and we encourage social struggles
of the organizations of older persons and of workers in the region for their rights
for decent pensions, for timely and preventive health and for integration and
exercise of all the rights, the real path of Good Treatment and of Good Living,
which is the cry of every voice, every face of older persons, and of all citizens.
June 2013

With thanks for your solidarity, Susanne Paul at Global Action on Aging


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

HIV in US Prisons

Of the 2.2 million people serving time in US prisons, around 1.5 % of those are living with HIV or AIDS. That number is about four times higher than the infection rate of HIV in the general population. Studies show that most HIV positive inmates are infected before they enter prison. Nevertheless, prison environments offer many opportunities to spread HIV. High risk behaviors such as injecting drugs, tattooing, body piercing and unprotected sex (consensual and rape) are not uncommon in a prison setting.

To give you an idea of the situation, I found a CDC (Center of Disease Control) study carried out in a Georgia State Prison between 1992 and 2005. It showed that 54 inmates (45 cases and 9 control persons) reported having male-male sex while in prison. Some 35 persons (78 %) of the case inmates and four (44%) of the nine control inmates reported no male-male sex after the first six months following incarceration. Among those who reported any male-male sex, 39 said they had consensual sex with other inmates. They exchanged sex for food, cigarettes, money, etc. Rape was also reported. When consensual sex occurred 34 (30%) reported using condoms or other improvised barrier methods (such as a rubber or plastic glove). In “exchange sex,” 21 % said they used improvised methods, but no condoms. No protection was used during rape.*

What has been done in the US about this situation?
Several bills have been introduced to attack this growing problem. It's been clear that the prison authorities must ensure a safe and humane treatment of prisoners who are HIV positive or are living with AIDS. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA) has introduced H.R 3053 – to Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal HIV Discrimination Act (REPEAL HIV Discrimination ACT). And Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA) has introduced H.R 3547, the Stop AIDS in Prison Act. This legislation calls for a comprehensive policy to provide HIV-testing, treatment and prevention measures for inmates in federal prisons and upon their reentry into the community. It would also require prisons to test inmates upon intake and offer counseling. It also requires frequent HIV/AIDS educational programs for all inmates.

Some state prisons have HIV positive people in separate facilities, arguing that such separation allows them to focus on medical care. The HIV positive inmates and HIV negative inmates mix for education, vocational training, religious and other prison programs. But is such segregation of HIV positive inmates really the solution?

As a matter of fact, separate facilities may well increase the already existing stigma. I believe that separate facilities may well be inhumane and degrading and may violate international law. Even if you are in prison, you should have the right to privacy. It should be the citizen’s right to decide whether to tell others of his/her health status. Laws and regulations that exist regarding HIV status should be the same in prison as in free society.

On the other hand, confidentiality of medical information in a prison setting is hard to maintain. Persons other than of medical staff members may handle medical records. Once such information is released, it travels fast. It has been argued that prisoners have a greater need for privacy than those outside because they live in a closed community where violence is common. Also, if prisons fail to keep medical records confidential, inmates might choose not to get tested, to avoid being victims of this double-sided problem. Prison officials also use HIV tests results to make decisions about housing (separate housing as one option in some prisons), work assignments, and visiting privileges. It's been common to ban HIV positive inmates from kitchen work.

Many inmates report difficulties getting the right medications and at the right time, or at all. To solve this problem, separate facilities might be a solution. Nevertheless, is it necessary to put HIV- positive prisoners in a separate facility simply to assure that they get the right medications at the right time? I am sure the prison system can do better than that. Besides, keeping people in different facilities does not reduce the spread of other sexually transmitted, opportunistic, and blood-borne infections. Such policies do not prevent transmission by inmates who are unaware that they are infected or by HIV-infected correction staff. There is no available data that show the effectiveness of separate housing for HIV positive inmates as an HIV – prevention strategy.

A better solution alongside education and volunteer testing would be to make condoms available in prisons and assure confidential patient care. Such a policy would focus on educating prisoners about how the virus is contracted. And it would demonstrate that HIV-positive people CAN work in a kitchen!

Sanna Klemetti

Learn more and see references at: