Ghana: New law to protect the rights of people living with HIV approved by parliament with discrimination against persons living with HIV to attract jail term

Parliament has approved a three year maximum jail term for discriminating against persons living with HIV/AIDS.

This follows the passage of the Ghana AIDS Commission Bill, 2015 into law by the House on Tuesday.

According to the new Act, a person who discriminates against a person infected with HIV/AIDS commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine or a term of imprisonment of not less than 18months and not more than three years or both.

The punishment extends to persons who deny burial for person suspected or perceived to be HIV/AIDS positive as well as persons who disclose information that concerns the HIV/AIDS status of another person.

The punishment also applies to persons who deny or exclude a person suspected or perceived to be HIV positive from insurance, retirement, social security benefits, or any other rights the affected persons.

The new law also frowns on discrimination against an employee who has been affected with the diseases as well as institutions which deny educational rights on the basis of the actual or perceived HIV/AIDS status of that person.

The Act, prohibites the denial of persons infected with the virus the right to be elected to a public office or the right to vote on an account of the HIV/AIDS status of that person.

Persons living with the disease shall also not be denied the freedom of movement, right of residence, right to sexual and reproductive health, or right to family.

The Act also gives the Ghana AIDS Commission a legal backing and proposes the establishment of the National HIV and AIDS Fund.

It provides for the sources of funds for the AIDS Commission which includes moneys from the National HIV/AIDS Fund, monies approved by Parliament, and loans contracted and guaranteed by the government.

The National HIV/AIDS Fund is to provide financial resources for the national HIV/AIDS reponse to target, in particular, HIV prevention, including the reduction of mother-to-child transmission, stigma reduction, treatment, and the care and support of persons living with HIV.

The sources of money for the fund include moneys approved by Parliament for the fund, grants, donations, gifts and other voluntary contributions, returns on investment of funds by the commission, monies that the minister responsible for finance may determine with the approval of Parliaent and other moneys or property that may become lawfully payable and vested in the board of the fund.lo

Source: Gilbert Ankrah/