God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Criminalization of HIV – AIDS

Bad criminal laws...Poisoning  –  terrorist attack  – bio-attack  –  murder  — attempted murder  –  assault

 

the labels of law are unbelievable – sometimes even if there is no knowledge of the infection or no transmission occurred

 

Did you know that giving birth, breastfeeding, spitting as a HIV positive person can bring you into jail in some countries?

 

In Sweden, even consent is declared invalid by law if transmission occurs

 

It is not those who know their status who drive the pandemic but those who don’t know. But would you go for a test when you know that a positive result might bring you in jail through your sexual activities, even if it is protected sex and no transmission occurs?

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Global Commission on Law & HIV/AIDS

Press release of UNAIDS:

Launch of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law:
“Addressing punitive laws and human rights violations blocking effective AIDS responses”

Geneva, 24 June 2010 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of the UNAIDS Secretariat, launched the Global Commission on HIV and the Law today. The Commission’s aim is to increase understanding of the impact of the legal environment on national HIV responses. Its aim is to focus on how laws and law enforcement can support, rather than block, effective HIV responses.
The Global Commission on HIV and the Law brings together world-renowned public leaders from many walks of life and regions. Experts on law, public health, human rights, and HIV will support the Commissions’ work. Commissioners will gather and share evidence about the extent of the impact of law and law enforcement on the lives of people living with HIV and those most vulnerable to HIV. They will make recommendations on how the law can better support universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Regional hearings, a key innovation, will provide a space in which those most directly affected by HIV-related laws can share their experiences with policy makers. This direct interaction is critical. It has long been recognized that the law is a critical part of any HIV response, whether it be formal or traditional law, law enforcement or access to justice. All of these can help determine whether people living with or affected by HIV can access services, protect themselves from HIV, and live fulfilling lives grounded in human dignity.
Nearly 30 years into the epidemic, however, there are many countries in which negative legal environments undermine HIV responses and punish, rather than protect, people in need. Where the law does not advance justice, it stalls progress. Laws that inappropriately criminalize HIV transmission or exposure can discourage people from getting tested for HIV or revealing their HIV positive status. Laws which criminalize men who have sex with men, transgender people, drug-users, and/or sex workers can make it difficult to provide essential HIV prevention or treatment services to people at high risk of HIV infection. In some countries, laws and law enforcement fail to protect women from rape inside and outside marriage – thus increasing women’s vulnerability to HIV.
At the same time, there are also many examples where the law has had a positive impact on the lives of people living with or vulnerable to HIV. The law has protected the right to treatment, the right to be free from HIV-related discrimination in the workplace, in schools and in military services; and has protected the rights of prisoners to have access to HIV prevention services. Where the law has guaranteed women equal inheritance and property rights, it has reduced the impact of HIV on women, children, families and communities.
With more than four million people on life-saving treatment and a seventeen per cent decrease in new infections between 2001 and 2008, there is hope that the HIV epidemic is at a turning
point. To reach country’s own universal access targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), persistent barriers like punitive laws and human rights violations will need to be overcome.
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark believes that the next generation of HIV responses must focus on improving legal, regulatory, and social environments to advance human rights and gender equality goals. “Some 106 countries still report having laws and policies present significant obstacles to effective HIV responses. We need environments which protect and promote the human rights of those who are most vulnerable to HIV infection and to the impact of HIV, and of those living with HIV/AIDS,” Helen Clark said.
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director has made removing punitive laws a priority area for UNAIDS. “The time has come for the HIV response to respond to the voice of the voiceless,” he said. “We must stand shoulder to shoulder with people who are living with HIV and who are most at risk. By transforming negative legal environments, we can help tomorrow’s leaders achieve an AIDS-free generation.”
The Global Commission on HIV and the Law is being supported by a broad range of partners and stakeholders, including donors such as the Ford Foundation and AusAID. Murray Proctor, Australia’s Ambassador on HIV, expressed strong support for the Commission and the work it is tasked to do. “We commend UNDP and the UNAIDS programme for courageously taking this work forward, and we welcome the opportunity to contribute and support.”
The Commission’s work will take place over an 18 month period –mobilizing communities across the globe and promoting public dialogue on how to make the law work for an effective response to HIV. The findings and recommendations of the Commission will be announced in December 2011.
For more information contact:
Adam Rogers | Geneva | Senior Strategic Communications Advisor |tel. +41 22 917 85 41| adam.rogers@undp.org
Natalie Amar| New York | Commission Secretariat |tel. +41 22 917 85 41| natalie.amar@undp.org
Saya Oka | UNAIDS | Geneva | Communications Officer |tel. +41 22 791 1697| okas@unaids.org
UNDP is the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners.
UNAIDS: Leveraging the AIDS response, UNAIDS works to build political action and to promote the rights all of people for better results for global health and development. Globally, it sets policy and is the source of HIV-related data. In countries, UNAIDS brings together the resources of the UNAIDS Secretariat and 10 UN system organizations for coordinated and accountable efforts to unite the world against AIDS. http://www.unaids.org

http://data.unaids.org/pub/PressRelease/2010/20100624_pr_lawcom_en.pdf

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, , , , ,

16.10.2009 Back to the middle ages…

This article about Uganda shows, how critical it is to get informed decisions and at the same time void all attempts of countries to deal with the criminal code regarding HIV and AIDS.

Ugandan bill proposes death penalty for sexually active HIV-positive gay men

Homosexual acts are already illegal, but the Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposes the death penalty for those having gay sex with disabled people, under-18s or when the accused is HIV-positive

A Ugandan MP has introduced a bill which would impose the death penalty on HIV-positive gay men in Uganda if they have sex with another man.

David Bahati’s bill is seeking to introduce an offence of “aggravated homosexuality” which would also impose the death penalty for same-sex activity if one of the partners is disabled or under 18 years of age. An independent Ugandan MP, John Otekat Emile, is quoted by BBC Online as saying that the bill has a “99% chance” of passing. Earlier drafts of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 punish homosexuality with a massive fine of 10 million Ugandan shillings and a maximum of ten years in prison. The bill also seeks to punish the “promotion of homosexuality” – including funding and sponsoring LGBT organisations and broadcasting, publishing, or selling materials on homosexuality – with a fine and a minimum of five years in prison. According to the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, anyone who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to up to six months in prison for neglecting to report in their colleagues, family, or friends.

The bill also claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while abroad, so that, for example, a Ugandan citizen normally resident in the United Kingdom could be convicted and imprisoned if he or she visits Uganda, on the basis of allegations that they have committed any of these offences while in the United Kingdom. Uganda is a recipient of significant international HIV aid.Concern has been expressed that money from the US PEPFAR programme has gone to rabidly homophobic organisations. In 2008, activists were arrested at an international conference in Uganda when they protested against the Ugandan government’s decision that gay men would not receive any HIV resources. There has been an increasing level of discrimination and violence against people in Uganda because of their sexuality in recent months. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has highlighted the detention of four men for 90 days without trial under Uganda’s already draconian anti-homosexuality laws. A fifth man, Brian Pande, died in hospital of undisclosed causes in mid September. Anti-gay organisations organised a protest rally in Uganda’s capital Kampala in August. The IGLHRC has also highlighted that the proposed legislation is in direct contravention of numerous international human rights agreements to which Uganda is a signatory. Furthermore, they also believe that it violates several clauses of the Ugandan constitution, which supposedly guarantees the right to privacy, the right to freedom of speech, expression and assembly, the protection of minorities, and the protection of civic rights and activities.

This article was first published by NAM/Aidsmap.com and is copied from http://www.fridae.com

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , ,

22.09.2009 more fundamental questions…

In the last days I described my stance on mandatory testing and the pre-testing counseling. Having now more time to dedicate my energy towards the HIV/AIDS portfolio, there are more topics I feel are necessary to persue in the coming months and years. I have spoken already about the need to end the stigmatization within the health sector itself.  On the political front I can forsee to look more intensive into the question of travel freedom of people living with the virus. The ban to visit certain countries or the ban to get a work permit if you are HIV positive as you can find it in Australia, Singapore and many other countries is not only a sign of a lack of maturity of politicians in the respective countries but also a clear violation of human rights. I am aware that the UN, but also the German “AIDS Hilfe” is dealing with the issue, but we should all join hands and start to pressurize political systems allowing such violations of dignity and human rights.
In some of the blogs I mention the work with HIV positive priests and religious as well as seminarians. This is indeed a very tricky question and I hope that in October, when I am in Rom to meet together with Joachim Franz with the papal council for health care workers, to get this council on board to have a hard look how we deal with HIV and AIDS in our own ranks. Is the refusal to take a HIV positive person into e.g. monkhood or a seminary not a sign of fear and immaturity of the church? Are we as a church really allowed to deal with infected people in refusing them to follow their vocation? I am sure that God does not mind the status of a person. So we also shouldn’t mind the HIV status of a person. What kind of AIDS policies are regulating the life of the church and their institutions? Do we advocate the acceptation of people living with the virus only for the area outside the church? Tough questions, but we owe it the greater love of God to check our own balances on those questions and see whether they add up.

The ethical question of ceasing treatment if somebody does not adhere at all – also a tricky question. I mentioned the criminal law as a tool of prevention, which I find absolutely unreasonable in the way it is administered in most countries, specially also here in Africa.

Those are some of the questions in my mind, where I would like to contribute towards a solution which ends the madness of stigmatization and discrimination, which forces governments and churches to act reasonable and always upholding the dignity and human rights of every person.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

18.09.2009 Criminal HIV?

“Nick Rhoades, an Iowa man sentenced May 8 to 25 years in prison for failing to disclose his HIV status to a male sexual partner, had his sentence reduced to five years of probation without jail time in a September 11 reconsideration hearing, The Iowa Independent reports.”

It is indeed an interesting question on whether disclosure of a HIV status can or should always be judged by legal means. In the existing climate of stigmatization and discrimination it is very unlikely that all people infected will be willing or able to disclose before being sexually active with somebody else. Punishment for non-disclosure, often even if no infection took place is growing in the legal systems of nations and I tend to disagree.
I would argue that the onus lies on both parties to protect and if I want to engage in sexual activities where the exchange of body fluids is likely, I have to treat every unknown and maybe even every known person as if he/she is carrier of the virus.  It always takes two to dance one says – and this applies also to such cases like the one above.
I personally don’t think that the tool of the criminal code is a very good tool to prevent infections; I think it will rather make it more unlikely that people get tested because at least they could argue then, that they did not know at all.
I see with concern that more and more also African countries develop laws in that regard, even punishing people when they did not know of their infection and no infection took place.
Extra criminal laws in this regard puts people living with the virus very quick into the criminal corner – that is not what we need to stop the stigma and in doing so,  creating an environment where we are really able to stop the spread of the virus.

Filed under: HIV Prevention, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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