Researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health have just published a qualitative study in Global Public Health examining perceptions of legal protections among human immunodeficieincy virus (HIV)-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Philippines. The research was led by Mr. Alex Adia, who just graduated from the School of Public Health with a MPH, through the school’s Philippine Health Initiative for Research, Service & Training (PHIRST).
21 MSM with HIV were recruited from the Metro Manila area for one-hour interviews, which took place between July and August 2018, and were asked questions pertaining to legal protections for people living with HIV. The Philippines recently updated its HIV law to include greater protections. Overall, participants felt that legal protections led to empowerment through management of internalized stigma, feeling like there was now a tool with which to fight discrimination with, and a perception that society was starting to become more tolerant of people living with HIV. While participants were confident that the law was intended to provide protection against acts of discrimination, participants also expressed skepticism at the ability of the law to protect people in practice. Some participants felt that loopholes could be found in the legal system to circumvent the law, should a case be filed, and that filing a case in uncertain circumstances was not worth it in the end. This lack of faith in the protections of the law can lead to other harms like unemployment and a lack of services and accommodations for HIV+ at work.
The authors suggest that more work should be done to increase knowledge about the law, as well as increase access to legal services.Friday Letter Submission