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Iacopino V.,Physicians for Human Rights
PLoS medicine | Year: 2011

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the government authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques that were previously recognized as torture. While the complicity of US health professionals in the design and implementation of US torture practices has been documented, little is known about the role of health providers, assigned to the US Department of Defense (DoD) at the US Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), who should have been in a position to observe and document physical and psychological evidence of torture and ill treatment. We reviewed GTMO medical records and relevant case files (client affidavits, attorney-client notes and summaries, and legal affidavits of medical experts) of nine individuals for evidence of torture and ill treatment and documentation by medical personnel. In each of the nine cases, GTMO detainees alleged abusive interrogation methods that are consistent with torture as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture as well as the more restrictive US definition of torture that was operational at the time. The medical affidavits in each of the nine cases indicate that the specific allegations of torture and ill treatment are highly consistent with physical and psychological evidence documented in the medical records and evaluations by non-governmental medical experts. However, the medical personnel who treated the detainees at GTMO failed to inquire and/or document causes of the physical injuries and psychological symptoms they observed. Psychological symptoms were commonly attributed to "personality disorders" and "routine stressors of confinement." Temporary psychotic symptoms and hallucinations did not prompt consideration of abusive treatment. Psychological assessments conducted by non-governmental medical experts revealed diagnostic criteria for current major depression and/or PTSD in all nine cases. The findings in these nine cases from GTMO indicate that medical doctors and mental health personnel assigned to the DoD neglected and/or concealed medical evidence of intentional harm.


Iacopino V.,Physicians for Human Rights | Iacopino V.,University of Minnesota | Iacopino V.,University of California at Berkeley | Xenakis S.N.,U.S. Army
PLoS Medicine | Year: 2011

Background: In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the government authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques that were previously recognized as torture. While the complicity of US health professionals in the design and implementation of US torture practices has been documented, little is known about the role of health providers, assigned to the US Department of Defense (DoD) at the US Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), who should have been in a position to observe and document physical and psychological evidence of torture and ill treatment. Methods and Findings: We reviewed GTMO medical records and relevant case files (client affidavits, attorney-client notes and summaries, and legal affidavits of medical experts) of nine individuals for evidence of torture and ill treatment and documentation by medical personnel. In each of the nine cases, GTMO detainees alleged abusive interrogation methods that are consistent with torture as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture as well as the more restrictive US definition of torture that was operational at the time. The medical affidavits in each of the nine cases indicate that the specific allegations of torture and ill treatment are highly consistent with physical and psychological evidence documented in the medical records and evaluations by non-governmental medical experts. However, the medical personnel who treated the detainees at GTMO failed to inquire and/or document causes of the physical injuries and psychological symptoms they observed. Psychological symptoms were commonly attributed to "personality disorders" and "routine stressors of confinement." Temporary psychotic symptoms and hallucinations did not prompt consideration of abusive treatment. Psychological assessments conducted by non-governmental medical experts revealed diagnostic criteria for current major depression and/or PTSD in all nine cases. Conclusion: The findings in these nine cases from GTMO indicate that medical doctors and mental health personnel assigned to the DoD neglected and/or concealed medical evidence of intentional harm. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary. © 2011 Iacopino, Xenakis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Shannon K.,University of British Columbia | Leiter K.,Physicians for Human Rights | Phaladze N.,University of Botswana | Hlanze Z.,Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: There is limited empirical research on the underlying gender inequity norms shaping gender-based violence, power, and HIV risks in sub-Saharan Africa, or how risk pathways may differ for men and women. This study is among the first to directly evaluate the adherence to gender inequity norms and epidemiological relationships with violence and sexual risks for HIV infection. Methods: Data were derived from population-based cross-sectional samples recruited through two-stage probability sampling from the 5 highest HIV prevalence districts in Botswana and all districts in Swaziland (2004-5). Based on evidence of established risk factors for HIV infection, we aimed 1) to estimate the mean adherence to gender inequity norms for both men and women; and 2) to model the independent effects of higher adherence to gender inequity norms on a) male sexual dominance (male-controlled sexual decision making and rape (forced sex)); b) sexual risk practices (multiple/concurrent sex partners, transactional sex, unprotected sex with non-primary partner, intergenerational sex). Findings: A total of 2049 individuals were included, n = 1255 from Botswana and n = 796 from Swaziland. In separate multivariate logistic regression analyses, higher gender inequity norms scores remained independently associated with increased male-controlled sexual decision making power (AORmen = 1.90, 95%CI:1.09-2.35; AORwomen = 2.05, 95%CI:1.32-2.49), perpetration of rape (AORmen = 2.19 95%CI:1.22-3.51), unprotected sex with a non-primary partner (AORmen = 1.90, 95%CI:1.14-2.31), intergenerational sex (AORwomen = 1.36, 95%CI:1.08-1.79), and multiple/concurrent sex partners (AORmen = 1.42, 95%CI:1.10-1.93). Interpretation: These findings support the critical evidence-based need for gender-transformative HIV prevention efforts including legislation of women's rights in two of the most HIV affected countries in the world. © 2012 Shannon et al.


Gupta R.,University of California at San Francisco | Dandu M.,University of California at San Francisco | Packel L.,University of California at San Francisco | Rutherford G.,University of California at San Francisco | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Background: Depression is a leading contributor to the burden of disease worldwide, a critical barrier to HIV prevention and a common serious HIV co-morbidity. However, depression screening and treatment are limited in sub-Saharan Africa, and there are few population-level studies examining the prevalence and gender-specific factors associated with depression. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional population-based study of 18-49 year-old adults from five districts in Botswana with the highest prevalence of HIV-infection. We examined the prevalence of depressive symptoms, using a Hopkins Symptom Checklist for Depression (HSCL-D) score of ≥1.75 to define depression, and correlates of depression using multivariate logistic regression stratified by sex. Results: of 1,268 participants surveyed, 25.3% of women and 31.4% of men had depression. Among women, lower education (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.07, 95% confidence interval [1.30-3.32]), higher income (1.77 [1.09-2.86]), and lack of control in sexual decision-making (2.35 [1.46-3.81]) were positively associated with depression. Among men, being single (1.95 [1.02-3.74]), living in a rural area (1.63 [1.02-2.65]), having frequent visits to a health provider (3.29 [1.88-5.74]), anticipated HIV stigma (fearing discrimination if HIV status was revealed) (2.04 [1.27-3.29]), and intergenerational sex (2.28 [1.17-4.41]) were independently associated with depression. Discussion: Depression is highly prevalent in Botswana, and its correlates are gender-specific. Our findings suggest multiple targets for screening and prevention of depression and highlight the need to integrate mental health counseling and treatment into primary health care to decrease morbidity and improve HIV management efforts. © 2010 Gupta et al.


Tsai A.C.,University of California at San Francisco | Tsai A.C.,Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies | Leiter K.,Physicians for Human Rights | Heisler M.,University of Michigan | And 6 more authors.
American Journal of Public Health | Year: 2011

Objectives: We sought to identify correlates of forced sex perpetration among men and victimization among women in Botswana and Swaziland. Methods: We surveyed a 2-stage probability sample of 2074 adults from the 5 districts of Botswana with the highest HIV prevalence rates and all 4 regions of Swaziland. We used multivariable logistic regression to identify correlates of forced sex victimization and perpetration. Results: Lifetime prevalence rates of forced sex victimization of women were 10.3% in Botswana and 11.4% in Swaziland; among men, rates of perpetration were 3.9% in Botswana and 5.0% in Swaziland. Lifetime history of forced sex victimization was the strongest predictor of forced sex perpetration by men in Botswana (adjusted odds ratio [OR]=13.70; 95% confidence interval [CI]=4.55, 41.50) and Swaziland (adjusted OR=5.98; 95% CI=1.08, 33.10). Problem or heavy drinking was the strongest predictor of forced sex victimization among women in Botswana (adjusted OR=2.55; 95% CI=1.19, 5.49) and Swaziland (OR=14.70; 95% CI=4.53, 47.60). Conclusions: Sexual violence in Botswana and Swaziland is a major public health and human rights problem. Ending codified gender discrimination can contribute to fundamentally changing gender norms and may be an important lever for gender-based violence prevention in these countries.

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