Making sure the law helps stop climbing rates of HIV and AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – 18 March, 2011– The United Nations is asking people in Europe and CIS to share their experiences with laws and practices – positive and negative – related to HIV status, access to prevention and treatment services, or those that affect education, work, healthcare and residency. Watch: Video message from Jeffrey O’Malley, Director, UNDP HIV/AIDS Practice
In May the Global Commission on HIV and the Law will meet in Chisinau, Moldova with individuals, communities, policy and law makers from countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia as part of a region wide effort to improve HIV responses.
This requires a focus on some of the most challenging legal and human rights issues related to HIV, including criminalization of HIV transmission, issues such as drug use, sex work, homosexuality, and the rights of prisoners, migrants and children.
Many laws and regulations protecting people with HIV from discrimination are not enacted, or fully implemented or enforced.
Video message from Jeffrey O’Malley,
Director, UNDP HIV/AIDS Practice
Some laws are punitive such as laws criminalizing consensual sex between men, prohibiting condom and needle access for prisoners, and using residency status to restrict access to prevention and treatment services.
"We want to hear from those who are directly affected by and vulnerable to HIV, especially those whose voices are silenced by restrictive legal environments. Their voices need to be heard on how the law has affected their lives," said Dudley Tarlton, UNDP HIV advisor.
The latest data from the UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic find that HIV is growing faster here than in any other region in the world.
The epidemic has long been fuelled by stigma and discrimination that has not been adequately addressed through national legal systems. Several countries still have policies that interfere with the accessibility and effectiveness of HIV-related measures for prevention and care.
The Commission will use evidence from countries in the region to develop recommendations for effective HIV responses that protect and promote the human rights of people living with, and vulnerable to, HIV.
The law can protect those vulnerable to and living with HIV against abuse and harassment by the police and against discrimination by healthcare workers, and employers.
The law can enable people at risk of HIV to access the tools they need to avoid infection, and help make it possible for people living with HIV to access life-sustaining treatment.
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