Between Conservatism and Pragmatism: Crafting a Human Rights-Based Approach to HIV/AIDS Related Services for Women in the Middle East
Dr Kamiar Alaei’s academic, medical and international public health project work has all navigated the art of advancing health (and later, also educational) concerns in conservative settings. When patients are condemned for having certain conditions in societies in which they are stigmatised, how can a step-by-step medical and humanitarian approach help in advancing responses and conditions? The record of Kamiar and Arash’s research and practice illustrates dramatic official u-turns in the provision of services for patients living with HIV/AIDS, STIs and IDUs in Iran and beyond. They broke down intransigent resistance in acknowledging the existence of such patients from government authorities, religious authorities and the wider public.
This pioneering methodology that they have utilised is one that crafts a pragmatic way forward from the conservative realities on the ground towards internationally agreed human rights standards. As such, its implications go beyond the experience they themselves have gained and documented in Iran, the Middle East and Central Asia, and can be applied in relation to other cultural obstacles to the advancement of health for disadvantaged populations in different contexts. This paper will both outline that record and share academic work in progress regarding the provision of related health services for women in a number of Middle Eastern contexts.
About the speaker:
Dr Kamiar Alaei is the co-President of the Institute for International Health and Education.With an educational background in both medicine and human rights law, Kamiar completed studies in Isfahan, Shahid Beheshti and Tehran universities as well as Harvard, the State University of New York and the masters in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. His career has spanned medical practice, public health management as well as academic posts at the University of Kermanshah, SUNY at Albany and a number of visiting academic positions. Kamiar has authored and co-authored over 35 academic papers in journals such as the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, the AIDS and the Encyclopaedia on Women and Islamic Culture.
The work of Dr Kamiar Alaei and his brother Dr Arash Alaei drew both international acclaim – for example in the award of the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights and the Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award – and prison sentences (2008-2011) for both. They are particularly renowned for pioneering their best practice Triangular Clinics for counselling and care of patients living with HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and injecting drug users (IDU). They have also received large Global Fund, international and federal grants for a variety of health and educational projects around the world.