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Lecture examines government responsibility regarding HIV/AIDS in Africa

March 06, 2009

An ASU professor will provide his perspective on “HIV/AIDS and Human Rights in sub-Saharan Africa: Pushing the Limits of State Responsibility” during an event Wednesday, March 18 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. in Room 241 of the University Center Building at Arizona State University’s West campus. The lecture is sponsored by Barrett, the Honors College at ASU’s West campus.

The speaker is William Simmons, an associate professor of political science in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and director of the Master of Arts program in Social Justice and Human Rights.

“Especially in sub-Saharan Africa, responsibility for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment is frequently considered from an individual-level perspective,” Simmons says. “I will ask attendees to consider whether states have responsibilities, moral or legal, to provide adequate HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and whether they can be found legally culpable for failing to meet these responsibilities.”

During his presentation, Simmons will examine recent innovative legal cases from such jurisdictions as India and South Africa to explain the current status of legal culpability for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. He will describe a new way of thinking about state responsibility that could be used to find both developing and developed states legally culpable for failure to provide adequate prevention and treatment.

Simmons’ lecture coincides with World Vision Experience: AIDS, a nationally touring exhibit that will be on display March 15-22 at the West campus.

“At the Barrett Honors College on the West campus, we strive to connect faculty expertise with critical contemporary issues, in order to increase knowledge and understanding among our students and the community at large,” says Andrew Kirby, associate dean of Barrett, the Honors College at the West campus. “The presentation of the World Vision Experience: AIDS exhibit here gives us an ideal opportunity to share Dr. Simmons’ extensive knowledge about this important topic with Valley residents.”

Simmons’ work has been published in journals including Philosophy and Social Criticism, Social Sciences Quarterly, The Journal of International Human Rights, and Yale Human Rights. An ASU faculty member since 2002, Simmons is the author of “An-Archy and Justice: An Introduction to Emmanuel Levinas’ Political Thought.” He also takes a lead role in the annual Border Justice event sponsored by ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. The 2009 event, from March 31 through April 2 on the West campus, will focus on “Crime, Justice and the Border.”

The March 18 lecture by Simmons is free and open to the public. Light hors d’oeuvres and desserts will be served. More information is available at (602) 543-3410.

For details about the Barrett Honors College at ASU’s West campus, visit More information about World Vision Experience: AIDS may be found at