Russia court grants child custody to HIV-positive woman

[JURIST] A Russian court on Monday awarded an HIV-positive woman custody of her younger brother. Svetlana Izambayeva sought custody rights [RIA Novosti report] in February after her mother's death left the boy orphaned, but was denied by a city court because of her HIV status. On appeal, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Tatarstan [official website] overruled the lower court decision. Human rights groups following the case had called the lower court decision unfair and alleged widespread discrimination [AFP report] against people with HIV in Russia.

Monday's court decision could set an important precedent in Russia. As many HIV-positive Russians claim to experience discrimination from people who do not understand HIV/AIDS, the government and other groups continue to make an effort to raise awareness and educate the public. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) [official website], there are more than 900,000 people living with HIV [UNAIDS fact sheet, PDF] in Russia. Efforts to alleviate discrimination also continue in other countries. Earlier this month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [official website] removed HIV from its list of communicable diseases of public significance, ending a 22-year-old policy [JURIST report] prohibiting people with HIV or AIDS from entering the country. In 2008, an Indian court awarded custody [IANS report] to an HIV-positive woman after her in-laws refused to turn over the child.

 

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