Stop Dismissing Volunteers with HIV and Provide Better Health Care

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The Peace Corps strives to create a world committed to justice, peace and friendship. Yet the organization has a disturbing trend where several volunteers have been fired after they were diagnosed with HIV. 

Volunteers in Cambodia, Ukraine, and other parts of Southeast Asia have been dismissed after their HIV diagnoses, while many other volunteers have been told that they cannot get access to PrEP, medication that can drastically lower the rate of HIV transmission. This is despite the fact that many Peace Corps volunteers work in countries with high rates of HIV.

It's time for the Peace Corps to stop discriminating against HIV-positive volunteers and to provide better health care for volunteers.

In a formal letter to the Peace Corps, the Treatment Action Group (TAG) said they were deeply concerned about an environment of "de facto discrimination" against individuals with HIV in the Peace Corps.

"We are concerned that the Peace Corps’s policy pertaining to volunteers diagnosed with HIV is arbitrary, is not grounded in evidence, and is being implemented without critical attention to the well-being of the volunteers," TAG writes.

"In practice, these policies mean that volunteers who make the health-conscious decision to get tested for HIV—a practice the Peace Corps should encourage—are, in effect, punished if they test positive."

For an organization as highly-respected and mission-focused as the Peace Corps, they are failing the people they serve by firing people with HIV and by refusing access to much needed medications that can help curb the transmission of HIV.

Urge the Peace Corps to do better, to stop treating volunteers with HIV as disposable, and to make sure that volunteers in the Peace Corps have all the health care they need to prevent transmission of HIV.