“We want a people’s vaccine, not a profit vaccine”

Yesterday was the Global Day of Action for a #PeoplesVaccine.

On 11 March, one year since the World Health Organisation declared a COVID-19 pandemic, influential leaders including Winnie Byanyima from UNAIDS and social justice organisations like Human Rights Watch, joined tens of thousands of individuals and organisations all over the world demanding a People’s Vaccine – a vaccine that is made freely available to everyone, everywhere.

Countries in the global South are currently unlikely to receive a COVID-19 vaccine until 2023. This is a scandal and threatens everyone.

In a feature story published yesterday, UNAIDS highlighted that as developing countries are facing critical shortages of oxygen and medical supplies to cope with COVID-19,  few have been able to administer a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In contrast, rich nations have vaccinated their citizens at a rate of one person per second over the last month.

We wholeheartedly support this campaign to pressure pharmaceutical companies and governments to end vaccine monopolies.  Following yesterday’s WTO vote by rich countries  against waiving patent rules, we stand in solidarity with its demands that:

  • Pharmaceutical companies openly share vaccine know-how. They can do this by joining the World Health Organisation COVID-19 Technology and Access Pool (C-TAP).
  • Governments suspend patent rules at the World Trade Organisation on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and testing during the pandemic. This will help break Big Pharma monopolies and increase supplies so there are enough doses for everyone, everywhere.

Click the link below to learn more about how you can support the People’s Vaccine campaign.

Learn more

Celebrating positive women and challenging HIV criminalisation on International Women’s Day

Women are often seen both as victims and perpetrators in regard to HIV criminalisation. There are, at least, ten reasons why HIV criminalisation harms women including, “negative public health outcomes, increased gender-based violence, and greater social and political inequalities for women.”

Consequently, women – especially women who experience racism, sex workers, sexual and gender minority women, those living with disabilities, refugees, and women who use drugs – are impacted by HIV criminalisation in a number of ways, and are often multiply criminalised due to their intersecting identities.

It is against this backdrop that, every year, we mark International Women’s Day on 8th March. The day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose To Challenge‘. The theme is important in terms of HIV criminalisation as it is a call to all stakeholders – including governments – to protect the human rights of all women living with HIV.

Next week, some of our HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners are hosting events to commemorate this day.

For the AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), International Women’s Day is a time to challenge HIV criminalisation against women, who historically, have been disproportionately prosecuted under HIV criminal laws.

This International Women’s Rights Day we #ChooseToChallenge HIV criminalisation because evidence has shown that women, especially in East and Southern Africa have been at higher risk of prosecution under HIV criminalisation laws. Women living with HIV have been stigmatised and discriminated against because of the HIV status in families and communities. HIV criminalisation leads to negative public health outcomes, increased gender-based violence, and greater inequalities for women.”

ARASA will also host a webinar titled “#ChooseToChallenge – Young African Women Fighting for Bodily Autonomy and Integrity.” Together with ATHENA Network, they will co-host a Twitter chat, under the “#WhatGirlsWant” campaign titled: “Disability, leadership, and sexuality”: how girls and women living with disabilities dream of, engage in and enjoy (or not) sex, what do they want the world to know about their sexuality and leadership capabilities?

Register here

Later in the week, Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) and other Black women leaders in the HIV movement will be launching the first annual Celebrate and Honor Black Women in the HIV Movement Day on 12th March. PWN-USA want to honour the expertise of Black women working for, and volunteering with, HIV organisations; support and fund Black women-led organisations, and demand a US HIV response that centres upon the needs and leadership of Black transgender and cisgender women.

Register here

Editorial: “Leave no-one behind” when working to end HIV criminalisation

An editorial published to coincide with Zero Discrimination Day (March 1) by leaders in the HIV Justice movement celebrates “the courage and commitment of the growing global community of advocates, human rights defenders and others around the world who are challenging laws, policies and practices that inappropriately and unjustly criminalize people living with HIV”, but warns that this work must include and benefit those populations who are the most marginalised, and who remain most vulnerable to prosecution, despite advances in HIV science that are being used to challenge and modernise these laws.

Writing in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, the authors – who include HJN’s Executive Director, Edwin J Bernard; HJN’s Supervisory Board member, Michaela Clayton; and HJN’s Global Advisory Panel member, Edwin Cameron, along with Chris Beyrer, Desmond M. Tutu Professor of Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and GNP+’s Alexandra Volgina – note that despite many advances in the science of HIV there remains one area that is still an “all too common a threat to the lives and wellbeing of people living with HIV, as well as to the goal of ending the epidemic” – HIV criminalisation.

HIV criminalisation describes the unjust application of criminal and similar laws to people living with HIV ostensibly based on their HIV status, either via HIV‐specific criminal statutes or general criminal or other laws.

Citing data collated from HJN’s global case monitoring which suggests that HIV criminalisation intersects with “discrimination or criminalization on the basis of ethnicity, sex, gender identity, immigration status, sex work, sexuality and/or substance use,” they note that HIV criminalisation can be seen as a “surrogate marker for state‐sponsored stigma and discrimination against marginalized groups of people at higher risk of HIV.”

The editorial also addresses public health and healthcare workers who are often viewed as an extension of the criminal justice system by marginalised populations. “We are also seeing a frightening trend of prosecutions being initiated by those working in healthcare or public health without specific complaints. In some cases, police were notified of a person’s HIV diagnosis by health authorities, which then became a prompt to investigate the person’s relationship with their partner.”

Relatively few countries have repealed or modernised their laws, although efforts are currently underway across the globe, assisted by the 2018 publication of the Expert consensus statement on the science of HIV in the context of criminal law authored by 20 of the world’s leading HIV scientists, including Professor Beyrer.

The editorial celebrates and encourages the growing number of global advocates, human rights defenders and others around the world who are challenging HIV criminalisation but notes that everyone involved in the HIV response needs to play their part. “Ending HIV criminalization is the responsibility of us all,” they argue.

“It is important that we all understand how to ensure justice for all people living with HIV, not just those who have access to treatment and are fortunate enough to be undetectable,” they conclude, “so that we can finally end these outrageously unjust laws, policies and practices against people living with HIV in all of their diversity.”

HIV Justice Network’s Supervisory Board gains new members and a new Chair

The HIV Justice Network (HJN) is delighted to announce a number of significant changes to its Supervisory Board.

Following a joint meeting of the Supervisory and Management Boards earlier this month, Kevin Moody was appointed as the new Chair of the Supervisory Board, taking over from Lisa Power who stepped down after almost four years as the “start-up” Chair.

“Like all organisations that want to survive it’s vital that HJN grows and changes to meet an ever-changing world, the changing faces of HIV and the stigma that leads to criminalisation,” said Ms Power. “I’m very confident in handing over to Kevin Moody (as Chair) that this will continue. I think the greatest challenge in the next decade is to engage and enthuse the newer generations of people with HIV and allies to continue the fight; to challenge inappropriate, unfair and often intersecting laws and those who enforce them without heed to human rights, science and common sense.”

Mr Moody, who was appointed to the Supervisory Board in September 2020, is an independent consultant working on evidence-based research, policy and programming to support the development of person-centred initiatives to improve the health and quality of life of people living with and affected by HIV. A former CEO of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), he has previously worked with the World Health Organization and Médecins sans Frontières.

Mr Moody said he was excited to Chair the Supervisory Board as “it is an opportunity to work with incredibly talented people at HJN. I hope to support the continued development and success of HJN as it works globally to eliminate the unjust regulation, control and punishment of people living with HIV.”

In addition HJN welcomed three new members to the Supervisory Board this month, including former founding Director of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), Michaela Clayton who was elected Treasurer; George Ayala, Deputy Director of the Alameda County Public Health Department and the former Executive Director of MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights; and Sarai Chisala-Tempelhoff, a Malawian human rights lawyer and a legal researcher with over 15 years of experience in women’s access to justice. Australian lawyer and activist, Paul Kidd, will continue in his role as Secretary.

Ms Chisala-Tempelhoff said she ‘felt at home’ with her new role.I am celebrating my new role serving HJN on the Supervisory Board! HIV decriminalisation has been my passion and research focus since I wrote my undergrad dissertation on this two decades ago! This role and this organisation feel like home.”

Lisa Power, as outgoing Chair, will remain on the Supervisory Board as a member without portfolio. Reflecting on her term as Chair, Ms Power said, “The great public achievement of HJN in the past few years has been the Expert Consensus Statement, but I think the most notable feature of HJN – and this is down to [Executive Director, and sole Management Board member] Edwin J Bernard’s leadership – is the universal regard for the organisation and its work in a very difficult and often fraught field, which has been a constant. All I did was give Edwin the space to create while being a sounding board for his concerns as he steered HJN from being one man with a very bright idea to a solid organisation.”

You can read more about the Supervisory Board here.

WATCH! From Moment to Movement: HIV Justice Live! Ep 3 – Oslo Declaration 9th Anniversary

From Moment to Movement: HIV Justice Live! celebrates the Oslo Declaration on HIV Criminalisation

The 3rd episode of HIV Justice Live! aired on Wednesday, February 17, to celebrate nine years since the publication of the historic Oslo Declaration on HIV Criminalisation. Hosted by HIV Justice Network’s Edwin J Bernard, the show featured some of the advocates who were behind the Oslo Declaration.

Kim Fangen, co-organiser of the side-meeting that finalised the Oslo Declaration, and who was the only person openly living with HIV on the Norwegian Law Commission, revealed that the Declaration was initially conceived as an advocacy tool to influence policy discussions in Norway as well as neighbouring Nordic countries.

Patrick Eba, now UNAIDS Country Director in the Central African Republic, explained that the reason the meeting took place in Oslo was because the Norwegian Government had supported UNAIDS to produce detailed guidance on how countries should deal with the overly broad use of the criminal law to HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission, by examining scientific, medical and legal issues.

Former ARASA ED, Michaela Clayton, now a member of HJN’s Supervisory Board, said the Oslo Declaration was the first time there was a coming together of activists from both the global north and south around HIV criminalisation. She noted that although there had been some work done regionally and in-country, this was the first global solidarity statement around HIV criminalisation.

Ralf Jürgens, now Senior Coordinator of Human Rights at The Global Fund, who attended the Oslo meeting in an advisory capacity, spoke about his relief and delight that the work that he and others had done as part of the ‘first-wave’ of advocacy against HIV criminalisation was now being undertaken by the HIV Justice Network. Jürgens currently oversees the innovative Global Fund initiative, Breaking Down Barriers, which supports 20 countries to remove human rights-related barriers to health services for HIV, TB malaria, and COVID-19. He said the Global Fund has invested resources to fight laws and policies and discrimination overall and ensure access to justice. He added that the HIV Justice Worldwide movement now plays an “incredibly important” part in this work by providing global leadership and a wide range of advocacy resources.

There was a surprise appearance by Susan Timberlake, who was UNAIDS’ Senior Human Rights Advisor when the Oslo meetings took place. She recognised the Oslo Declaration as the moment that the global movement around HIV criminalisation began. Susan recalled the main meeting fell on Valentine’s Day and participants made posters with “make love, not criminal laws” messaging.

Our regular Mind the Gap segment featured Ellie Ballan, a member of our Global Advisory Panel, who is based in Lebanon. He was interviewed by Julian Hows, HJN’s Partnerships and Governance Co-ordinator.

The Oslo Declaration, has so far, garnered over 1750 signatories from more than 115 countries and been translated into nine different languages, the most recent being Latvian and Turkish. It was also the template for the Mexican Declaration in 2017.  Pozitif Dayanışma, an HIV organisation based in Turkey recently translated the Declaration into Turkish, as well as producing an accompanying info-graphic and social media pack.

Further, the Oslo Declaration has been referred to as key guidance on HIV criminalisation from global organisations such as UNAIDS, Amnesty International, and PEPFAR/USAID, cited in several peer-reviewed journals and used as a strategic planning and advocacy tool all over the world. The Declaration has also been featured in high-profile media, such as the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and POZ magazine.

HIV Justice Live Ep 3: Celebrating 9th Anniversary of the Oslo Declaration

To celebrate the 9th anniversary of the Oslo Declaration on HIV Criminalisation, the HIV Justice Network’s web show for advocates and activists, HIV Justice Live!, will this week feature some of the civil society activists who were behind the influential global call for a cohesive, evidence-informed approach to the use of criminal law relating to HIV non-disclosure, exposure, and transmission.

On February 13, 2012, a group of individuals from civil society around the world, concerned about the inappropriate and overly broad use of the criminal law to regulate and punish people living with HIV for behaviour that in any other circumstance would be considered lawful, came together in Oslo to create the Declaration.

The meeting took place on the eve of the global High-Level Policy Consultation on the Science and Law of the Criminalisation of HIV Non-disclosure, Exposure and Transmission, convened by the Government of Norway and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The Oslo Declaration, published on the brand new hivjustice.net website on February 22, 2012, became the founding document of the HIV Justice Network. Within weeks, more than 1700 supporters from more than 115 countries had signed up to the Declaration, creating a network of diverse activists, all fighting for #HIVJustice.

Now, nine years later, HIV Justice Live! will meet some of the advocates behind this historic statement including former ARASA Executive Director, Michaela Clayton, now a member of HJN’s Supervisory Board; former Senior Human Rights and Law Adviser at UNAIDS in Geneva, Patrick Eba, now UNAIDS Country Director in the Central African Republic; HIV activist Kim Fangen, a former member of the Norwegian Law Commission and co-organiser of the Oslo Declaration meeting; and Ralf Jürgens, co-founder of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, now Senior Coordinator of Human Rights at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

HJN’s Executive Director, Edwin J Bernard, who co-organised the meeting that created the Oslo Declaration with Kim Fangen will be discussing the importance of the Declaration as well as taking stock of developments around HIV criminalisation globally over the past decade.

HIV Justice Live! will be streamed on the HJN’s Facebook and YouTube channel on February 17, 2021, at 6 pm CET.

It’s all about justice and love this Valentines!

HIV Justice and Love

It’s Valentine’s Month! February is historically the month of love, and a time to show and share the love.

The HIV Justice Network is pleased to support campaigns in the month of love – February – focusing on HIV-positive living, loving, and justice.

Given the difficulty that some people living with HIV can face when it comes to finding love, including negotiating disclosure, sex for pleasure, and/or creating a family in the context of HIV criminalisation, it is important to acknowledge that everyone is deserving of love and affirmation.

To this end, the HIV Justice Network wishes to acknowledge the following Valentine’s campaigns for and about people living with HIV.

#LovePositiveWomen Campaign

The #LovePositiveWomen campaign is a global initiative running every Feb 1st-14th for each of us to express, share and support women living with HIV or as a friend of the community. It was developed and led by the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), one of seven founding partners of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE.

The campaign uses social media to link local grassroots gestures of love to each other. Using Valentines Day as a backdrop, #LovePositiveWomen “creates a platform for individuals and communities to engage in public and private acts of love and caring for women living with HIV.”

Going beyond romantic love to deep community love and social justice, the campaign is also a call to action. The HIV Justice Network has been supporting this campaign since 2017.

“#LovePositiveWomen is a response to the lack of attention and support and to make commitments. It requires participants to spend time reflecting on how they as either a woman living with HIV or an ally will commit to loving women living with HIV. Through action, change can be made to fueling economies of love and compassion. Working from a place of strength, it focuses on the idea of interconnectedness, relationship building, loving oneself, and loving one’s community. By starting from a place of love, within oneself, there are endless ways that the negative impacts that HIV has on women living with HIV can be lessened.”

You can follow the conversation using #LovePositiveWomen on social media.

#LoveandAccountability Campaign – What are you loving?

Initiated by Accountability International, their annual Valentine’s campaign has focused on a variety of thematic areas including consent, Resolution 275, and challenging criminalisation, among others.

For this year, their focus will feature some key messages around love, advocacy, human rights, justice, and accountability.

“Accountability International is well known for our fun and innovative Valentine’s Day campaigns and our collaborative, diverse, and inclusive way of working, so this year we have decided to put our Valentine’s campaign on steroids.”

Watch out for HJN’s Executive Director to be a part of the campaign, which uses the hashtags #LoveandAccountability and #LoveandHumanRights.

With love,

The HJN Team

Watch all the videos of Beyond Blame @HIV2020 – our “perfectly executed…deftly curated, deeply informative” webshow

Earlier this month, advocates from all over the world came together for two hours to discuss the successes and challenges of the global movement to end HIV criminalisation.

All of the recordings of Beyond Blame: Challenging HIV Criminalisation for HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE are now available on the HIV Justice Network’s YouTube Channel.

“HUGE pleasure 2B at #BeyondBlame2020 conference – deftly curated, deeply informative; speakers were great; the passion & commitment to #HIVjustice was palpable. Much progress yet a sober reminder that the work is far from over.”

Kene Esom, Policy Specialist: Human Rights, Law and Gender, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

 

The full-length director’s cut version – with enhanced audio and video – is now available in English as well as with the audio track of the recorded simultaneous translation in French, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.

The English version is also available as a YouTube playlist in ‘bite-size’ chunks, with each segment of the webshow available as standalone videos.  This means, for example, if you just want to watch (or share) the segment on ‘women challenging HIV criminalisation in Africa‘, or on ‘bringing science to justice, and justice to science‘, it’s now possible.

“That webinar was perfectly executed. Great sound, engaging transitions (they actually played people on and off!), and multiple speakers in various collections. Having ALL OF THEM back at the end showed the breadth of this technical accomplishment and the depth of the speakers’ field of expertise. Not everyone may notice these things but boy, I sure do, and it was totally pro. I’ve seen big name conferences who couldn’t get this right… Congratulations all around, and especially to [director] Nicholas Feustel.

Mark S King, My Fabulous Disease

 

We have also made available for the first time the standalone recording of Edwin Cameron’s closing speech, which inspired so many.  The transcript is included in full below.

“We have been being battling this fight for many years. Since the start of the HIV epidemic we as gay men, as gay women, as queers, as transgender people, as sex workers, as people using drugs, have been persecuted by the criminal law. And I’m here to say, “Enough! Enough!

We have achieved a great deal with our movement, with the HIV Justice Network. We have achieved a great deal in conscientizing law makers, law givers and the public. It is now time for us to join in unison to demand the end of these stigmatising, retrograde, unproductive, hurtful, harmful laws.

It is a long struggle we’ve engaged in. And it’s one that has hurt many of us. Some of us here today, some of us listening in, some of us who have spoken, have felt the most brutal brush of the law. They have been imprisoned, unjustly prosecuted, unjustly convicted, and unjustly sent away.

HIV is not a crime. But there is more to it. Criminalising HIV, criminalising the transmission or exposure of HIV, as many countries on my own beautiful continent Africa do, is not just stupid and retrograde. It impedes the most important message of the HIV epidemic now, which is that this epidemic is manageable. I’ve been on antiretroviral treatment now for very nearly 23 years. My viral load has been undetectable for more than 20.

We can beat this, but we have to approach this issue as public health issue. We have to approach it rationally and sensibly, and without stigma, and without targeting people, and without seeking to hurt and marginalise people.We’ve made calamitous mistakes with the misapplication of the criminal law over the last hundred years, in the so-called ‘war on drugs’. We continue to make a calamitous mistake in Africa and elsewhere by misusing the criminal law against queer people like myself. We make a huge mistake by misusing the criminal law against people with HIV.

Let us rise today and say, “Enough!”

 

HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE COVID-19 criminalisation statement now available in Arabic

Today, the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE Steering Committee statement on lessons learned from HIV criminalisation as it relates to COVID-19 criminalisation, has been published in a fifth language, Arabic.

Download the statement in Arabic / تحميل البيان باللغة العربية

We are grateful to our Global Advisory Panel member, Elie Balan, head of the LGBT Health Department (M-Coalition) at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, for undertaking the translation. 

The statement was originally published on 25 March in English, French and Spanish, and on 26 March in Russian.

The HIV Justice Network (HJN) continues to monitor the many ways legal, policy and police responses to COVID-19 is negatively impacting the human rights of people living with HIV, as well as individuals and communities most impacted by HIV. 

Each week, Sylvie Beaumont, HJN’s Research / Outreach Co-ordinator, curates our HIV Justice Weekly newsletter. She ensures that all of the previous week’s key articles and podcasts critiquing punitive responses to HIV and/or COVID-19, as well as HIV and COVID-19 criminalisation cases can be found in one place.

If you haven’t already signed up to receive the newsletter, published each Friday, you can do so at: https://www.hivjustice.net/hiv-justice-weekly