HIV Woman Forcibly Sterilized In Chile, Files Case
Today, a woman diagnosed with HIV filed a complaint against Chile before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an international human rights body, charging that the government failed to protect her from being forcibly sterilized at a state hospital immediately after she gave birth. In a petition submitted by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Chilean-based HIV/AIDS service organization VIVO POSITIVO on her behalf, the 27-year-old Chilean woman F.S. argues that the hospital staff operated on her because of her HIV status, without ever discussing the possibility of performing a surgical sterilization nor asking for her consent.
“Forced sterilization is a violation of a woman’s most basic human rights and is all too often committed against members of vulnerable groups, which deserve special protection, such as women living with HIV,” said Luisa Cabal, director of the international program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It’s time that the Chilean government respect the human rights of all its citizens and take concrete action to guarantee that a woman living with HIV receives quality reproductive health services and has the ability to make decisions about her own life.”
F.S., who wishes to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with HIV in 2002 soon after learning that she was pregnant. She was referred to Curicó Hospital for HIV treatment during pregnancy. At no time during her admittance did she request sterilization, and she and her husband had plans to have more children. Her case represents a country-wide problem within Chile, according to a 2004 study conducted by VIVO POSITIVO. The study found that, of the women living with HIV who were interviewed who had been sterilized, 29% of them had been pressured by medical staff to do so and 12.9% did not consent to the procedure at all. In addition, the study found that the majority of women had received biased counseling promoting the idea that women with HIV should not become pregnant, irrespective of the fact that, with the appropriate interventions, the risk of transmitting the virus to newborns can be reduced to less than two percent.