Mexico: LGBTQ+ community calling for the repeal of HIV criminalisation statute in Quintana Roo Public Health Law

LGBTQ+ community calls for changes to Quintana Roo Health Law

Translated via Deepl.com. Please scroll down for original article in Spanish.

The LGBTQ+ community is calling for the repeal of the criminalisation of HIV transmission in the Quintana Roo Health Law.

The LGBTQ+ community, in a working meeting with local Congresswoman Estefanía Mercado Asencio, requested the repeal of Article 113 of the Quintana Roo Health Law, which criminalises the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV.

The repeal of this article, found in Title Eight, Chapter II, Communicable Diseases, has been requested for several Legislatures, but has been ignored, said Omar Ortiz, the President of the Civil Association “Información y Educación Sexual”.

At the meeting, which was attended by people representing sexually diverse populations, people involved in the HIV response and mothers of various sexually diverse populations, a request was made to encourage municipalities to have a Sexual Diversity Unit, as in Solidaridad, which is the only municipality with such a unit, and for the State Government to have a Secretariat for Sexual Diversity.

“We were attending to the pending legislative agenda, with respect to what is already advanced and what is pending in the matter, at the local level; we talked about article 113 of the Health Law, which criminalises the issue of HIV, as well as the fact that Solidaridad is the only municipality that has a Unit for the Attention to Sexual Diversity, and she, as a deputy, has the possibility of presenting an initiative so that all municipalities have this position,” he pointed out.

“The article criminalises the fact of transmission, when it is an issue that cannot be scientifically proven; I cannot prove that you have transmitted HIV to me because there is no scientific or laboratory mechanism that allows us to know that it was you and not another partner or my sexual contacts, nor at what moment it happened. There is no way to apply that article, it is basically up to interpretation and that cannot be in the law.

Another issue they asked the Congresswoman to address is the creation of the Unit for Comprehensive Care of Sexually Diverse Populations and Children and Adolescents who require specialised endocrinology care, which responds to the needs of social minorities, such as the transgender population, in order to carry out their transition process under medical supervision, without endangering their lives and health.


Exige comunidad LGBTQ+ cambios a Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo

La comunidad LGBTQ+ pide derogar la criminalización del hecho de la transmisión del VIH en la Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo.

La comunidad LGBTQ+, en reunión de trabajo con la Diputada local, Estefanía Mercado Asencio, solicitó derogar el artículo 113 de la Ley de Salud de Quintana Roo ya que, criminaliza el hecho de la transmisión de enfermedades venéreas, en específico del VIH.

El citado artículo, ubicado en el Título Octavo, Capítulo II, Enfermedades Transmisibles, se ha pedido su derogación desde hace varias Legislaturas, pero ha sido ignorado, apuntó el Presidente de la Asociación Civil “Información y Educación Sexual”, Omar Ortiz.

En el encuentro donde participaron personas de la diversidad sexual, de respuesta del VIH y madres de poblaciones de la diversidad, se solicitó la promoción de una iniciativa para que los Ayuntamientos tengan una Unidad de la Diversidad Sexual, como en Solidaridad, que es el único con esta instancia, y que el Gobierno del Estado tenga una Secretaría de la Diversidad Sexual.

“Estuvimos atendiendo la agenda Legislativa pendiente, respecto a lo ya avanzado y lo pendiente que tenemos en la materia, en el terreno local; hablamos del artículo 113 de la Ley de Salud, que criminaliza el tema del VIH, así como que Solidaridad es el único Ayuntamiento que tiene una Unidad para la Atención a la Diversidad Sexual, y ella, como diputada, tiene la posibilidad de presentar una iniciativa para que todos los municipios cuenten con esta figura”, señaló.

“El artículo criminaliza el hecho de la transmisión, cuando es un tema que científicamente no se puede probar; yo no puedo probar que tú me hayas transmitido el VIH porque no existe un mecanismo científico, de laboratorio, que permita saber que fuiste tú y no otra pareja o mis contactos sexuales, ni en qué momento se dio. No hay manera de aplicar ese artículo, está básicamente a interpretación y eso no puede ser en la ley”.

Otro tema que pidieron a la Congresista es la creación de la Unidad de Atención Integral a Poblaciones de la Diversidad Sexual y Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes que requieran atención especializada en endocrinología, que responda a la necesidad de las minorías sociales, como la población trans, a fin de realizar su proceso de transición bajo vigilancia médica, sin poner en peligro su vida y salud.

US: Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) issues resolution on Molecular HIV Surveillance and Cluster Detection

PACHA Unanimously Approves Resolution to Create Safeguards for People Living with HIV

PACHA UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES RESOLUTION TO CREATE SAFEGUARDS FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV

Directs CDC to Adapt Surveillance Activities to Better Protect Human Rights for Vulnerable Communities

October 18, 2022PWN commends and applauds the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) for their leadership in unanimously passing an historic resolution that is critical to protecting the human rights and dignity of people living with HIV, the Resolution on Molecular HIV Surveillance and Cluster Detection Response.

This resolution responds to concerns raised by public health officials and community advocates, especially networks of people living with HIV and human rights and data privacy experts, and urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change their guidance on cluster detection and response (CDR) activities. Specifically, the resolution clearly and forcefully recommends that the CDC direct jurisdictions funded for such activities adapt their implementation of CDR to account for local conditions, including health data privacy protections and laws criminalizing people living with HIV.

“Basically, PACHA told the CDC that local context matters: if jurisdictions do not have adequate safeguards to protect the human rights and privacy of people living with HIV, the CDC must allow for a moratorium on CDR activities,” said Kelly Flannery, policy director at Positive Women’s Network-USA. “There is still room to create more robust protections for people living with HIV, such as informed consent standards. Going forward, we must ensure that there are no further developments and integration of new public health surveillance technologies impacting people living with HIV absent community input, oversight, and specifically involvement from networks of PLHIV.”

In the resolution, PACHA also urged CDC to work in partnership with networks of people living with HIV to create a stronger system of informed consent around the use of molecular HIV surveillance data. U.S.-based networks of PLHIV have been sounding the alarm about molecular HIV surveillance (MHS) since 2018, when the federal government first required that states and jurisdictions scale up the use of molecular surveillance technologies and activities as a condition of HIV prevention funding. By 2019, MHS was named one of the core pillars of the federal “End the HIV Epidemic” (EHE) Plan.

“As a result of massive mobilization and outcry by networks of people living with HIV and our allies, yesterday, we finally saw a response addressing community concerns,” said Venita Ray, co-executive director of Positive Women’s Network-USA. “Now it’s time for the CDC to take swift action to implement the recommendations from PACHA and networks of PLHIV.”

This resolution is a tremendous step forward for communities that are dually most impacted by HIV and by surveillance and policing – especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color, migrants, queer and transgender people, people who use drugs, those who work in in the sex trade, and those with the least access to quality, affordable healthcare. We are deeply appreciative to PACHA leadership and to the PACHA Stigma and Disparities Subcommittee for their tremendous efforts in response to concerns from networks of people living with HIV.

Now that it has now been unanimously approved by PACHA, what happens next will speak to the character and integrity of the CDC. Failing to implement these recommendations would represent an egregious breach of public trust. We will be closely monitoring the adoption of these important recommendations throughout the federal response.

The full PACHA resolution is available here.

We support the Support. Don’t Punish
2022 Global Day of Action

Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Support. Don’t Punish campaign promotes justice for people who use drugs – including people living with HIV. We wholeheartedly support the campaign’s messages:

  • The drug control system is broken and in need of reform.
  • People who use drugs should not be criminalised.
  • People involved in the drug trade should not face harsh or disproportionate punishments, where retained.
  • The death penalty should never be imposed for drug offences.
  • Drug policy should focus on health, well-being, harm reduction and meaningful community engagement.
  • Drug policy budgets need rebalancing to ensure health and harm reduction-based responses are adequately financed.

This Sunday, 26th June, is the campaign’s yearly high point, the 2022 Global Day of Action. The 26th June is symbolic as it is used by most governments to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking to highlight their so-called ‘achievements’ in “the war on drugs.”

Last year’s Global Day of Action saw 365 events in over 260 cities in nearly 100 countries. In mobilising for change, most campaigners relied on a bottom-up and community-centred approach to organising, inviting potential and aspiring allies and accomplices to collectively create a world where drug policy promotes care and compassion, not discrimination and stigma.

According to the campaign’s website, The 2022 Global Day of Action marks a very special anniversary for the Support. Don’t Punish campaign. For a decade, campaigners in all corners of the world have mobilised decisively to counter the harmful ‘war on drugs’ and the many systems of violence and neglect at its heart, and to build sustainable alternatives based on harm reduction and decriminalisation.”

This year, we urge you to join thousands of advocates and activists in supporting the Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action. Visit their homepage to check out where activities are taking place near you, and use these resources to amplify the campaign’s messages on social media, including on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Zimbabwe becomes the second country in Africa to fully repeal its HIV-specific criminal law

Last week, Zimbabwe’s parliament finally agreed to repeal the country’s HIV-specific criminal law, section 79 of the Criminal Code.  The law which contained the provision to repeal section 79 – the Marriages Act – was originally gazetted in July 2019.  It will now be signed into law by the president.

The significance of this cannot be underestimated. Zimbabwe becomes only the second country on the African continent to fully repeal its HIV-specific criminal law after the Democratic Republic of Congo repealed its law in 2018.

Although there have been remarkable advocacy successes elsewhere on the continent in preventing an HIV-specific criminal law being enacted in Malawi in 2017 and the suspension of one of Kenya’s two HIV-specific criminal laws on the grounds of unconstitutionality in 2015, it is rare for a sitting parliament to decide to completely repeal an HIV-specific criminal law.

That it did so is testament to a multi-year, multi-stakeholder campaign that began with civil society advocates sensitising communities and parliamentarians, notably the Honorable Dr Ruth Labode, Chairperson of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, who began pushing for a change in the law in 2018 having previously been in favour of the provision in order to protect her female constituents.

However, after attending a number of meetings, notably a November 2018 Symposium convened by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners, ARASA and SALC, along with other civil society organisations, she began to appreciate that HIV criminalisation does not, in fact protect women, but actually harms them.

We all know very well that in Zimbabwe and the world-over, we do not have diagnostic equipment which can tell us who gave HIV to the other and at what time. There is an assumption that whoever has manifested the disease first is the one who transmitted the virus. It can be anybody and it could be the other way round. If you are a woman and suddenly you find yourself positive, you will not tell your partner because of this law yet if the law was not there you would tell your partner and go and access ARVs to live happily ever after.
 
Hon Dr Ruth Labode, 2018

 

Zimbabwe was, in fact, the first African country to enact an HIV-specific criminal law, including it in the Sexual Offences Act of 2001. The law, which was supported by women’s rights groups who sought to address violence against women, made a criminal of anyone diagnosed HIV-positive who “intentionally does anything or permits the doing of anything” which (s)he “knows … will infect another person with HIV”.

The law was further amended in 2006 through the enactment of section 79 of the Zimbabwe Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, 2004. The new law, erroneously titled “Deliberate transmission of HIV”, did not require HIV transmission or for an accused to have an intention to transmit HIV: only that they undertake an act that includes “a real risk or possibility” of transmitting HIV. Further, section 79 was so broad it could be applied to anyone who knows they have HIV or who realises “there is a real risk or possibility” they might have HIV. The only defence was if the HIV-negative partner knew their partner had HIV and consented.

There were many attempts before the first reported prosecution in 2008.  Since then, there have been at least 18 further HIV criminalisation cases, making Zimbabwe the country with the highest known rate of HIV prosecutions in Africa.

As prosecutions continued, it became apparent that Zimbabwe’s HIV-specific criminal law did not protect women. Numerous cases accused women, including where it was likely that the accused was infected by her accuser spouse (although she was diagnosed first) and where men have made allegations as revenge for complaints about domestic violence.

The disproportionate impact of the law on women was highlighted in a 2015 campaign, ‘HIV on Trial – a threat to women’s health’ by Zimbabwe Lawyer’s For Human Rights (ZLHR) at the same time that they – ultimately unsuccessfully – challenged the law at the Constitutional Court. The campaign highlighted the case of Samukelisiwe Mlilo, who features in a powerful 15 minute documentary, ‘Alone But Together – Women and Criminalisation of HIV Transmission: The story of Samukelisiwe Mlilo’.

The focus then turned to repealing the law, and by 2019 the campaign to repeal the law was in full swing, supported by a wide range of stakeholders – including HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE, the Zimbabwe Network of People Living with HIV (ZNPP+) and UNDP.  

That year, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE published a range of policy documents aimed at different stakeholders – including people living with HIV, the media and parliamentarians – highlighting six key messages:

  1. Section 79 is vague, overly broad and open to unjust application.
  2. HIV criminalisation violates human rights and increases HIV stigma.
  3. HIV criminalisation laws are unscientific.
  4. HIV criminalisation does not prevent HIV.
  5. HIV criminalisation is a barrier to HIV testing, treatment and prevention.
  6. HIV criminalisation is harmful to women.

Now that Zimbabwe has repealed its law, it’s surely only a matter of time before the other 30 countries on the African continent with HIV-specific laws follow suit.  Advocates in Kenya – where the other HIV-specific criminal law is being challenged – and in Uganda – where the HIV-specific law is also being challenged – will be especially encouraged, as should all of us fighting for HIV justice around the world.

 

UPDATE: Speakers now confirmed for #BeyondBlame2021!

REGISTER HERE

Beyond Blame, our flagship meeting for activists, human rights defenders, criminal legal system and public health system actors, healthcare professionals, researchers, and anyone else working to end HIV criminalisation, is returning for a special eve-of-World AIDS Day edition.

Following the success of last year’s Beyond Blame @ HIV2020, which was reimagined as a two-hour web show, the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition is delighted to announce that Beyond Blame: Challenging Criminalisation for HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE will take place on Tuesday, November 30, 2021, from 6-8 PM Central European Time. Check this link to find the event in your local time.

REGISTER HERE

Beyond Blame is a unique opportunity to learn why HIV criminalisation matters, as well as hear about the wide range of initiatives and strategies that have been used by activists, lawyers, networks, and organisations around the world to work towards ending the inappropriate use of criminal law to regulate and punish people living with HIV.

We will be highlighting some of the successes and challenges of the global movement to end HIV criminalisation over the past year, including work on ending the criminalisation of women living with HIV for breastfeeding, exploring whether scientific advances, such as the prevention benefit of treatment (U=U) and Molecular HIV Surveillance, help or hinder our movement and much, much more.

Beyond Blame will take place in English, with interpretation available in French, Russian and Spanish.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via #BeyondBlame2021 #HIVJustice

REGISTER HERE

Austria: Austria’s AIDS Support organisations call for the destigmatisation of HIV positive people in criminal law

HIV-positive people are discriminated against in court

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) – For original article in German, please scroll down

AIDShilfen: HIV-positive people are discriminated against in court
Criminal law should follow scientific findings. HIV infections should no longer be prosecuted.

Vienna – Austria’s AIDS support organisations are protesting against discrimination in court and demand “the destigmatisation of HIV-positive people in criminal law”. People with HIV who regularly take their therapy and whose viral load is below the detectability limit “do not pose a threat”, it was stressed. “It is high time that criminal law follows the scientific findings,” warned Andrea Brunner, Executive Director of Aidshilfe Wien.

In the past, HIV-positive people have been held criminally responsible despite effective therapy and even though no transmission had taken place. The potential risk of infection was assumed, according to the AIDS support organisations. In 2020, the Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Graz overturned such a first-instance decision on the grounds that successful HIV therapy precluded criminal liability.

Adequate therapy as prevention
Sections 178 and 179 of the Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB) “or the previous case law on the subject”, however, continue to expose people with HIV to discrimination and stigmatisation. Since it has been proven that regular and effective therapy prevents the HIV virus from being passed on, those affected would not be committing a “dangerous act” during sexual intercourse, argues Aidshilfe. Since there is no risk of transmission, the facts of section 178 (“risk of spreading”) are not fulfilled. However, the fear of criminal consequences could contribute to a decrease in the willingness to test among those affected.

The Austrian Aids Support Services demand that an HIV infection should no longer be covered by the punishability of section 178f. As long as this remains the case, “the current state of medical research must be taken into account in the decision by a court. This means that both safe sex and the consistent pursuit of drug therapy must be grounds for exclusion from a trial.”

Broad support from parties
The demands meet with broad support among the parties represented in the National Council. The health spokespersons of the SPÖ, FPÖ do so unreservedly. NEOS (Neues Österreich) health spokesperson Fiona Fiedler is “basically in favour of reducing discrimination and promoting education”, but courts already take the state of science into account – “this demand is therefore obsolete”.

The press office of the ÖVP parliamentary club refers to the Ministry of Justice. There, the demands of the Aids organisations are currently being examined, it says on request. According to the press office of his club, the Green health spokesman Ralph Schallmeiner has already made an appointment with Andrea Brunner, managing director of Aids Hilfe Wien, to discuss possible improvements. (APA, red, 25.10.2021)


HIV-Positive werden vor Gericht diskriminiert
Das Strafrecht solle wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen folgen. HIV-Infektionen sollen nicht mehr strafrechtlich verfolgt werden.

Wien – Die Aidshilfen Österreichs protestieren gegen Diskriminierung vor Gericht und fordern “die Entstigmatisierung von HIV-Positiven im Strafrecht”. Menschen mit HIV, die regelmäßig ihre Therapie einnehmen und deren Virenlast unter der Nachweisbarkeitsgrenze liegt, “stellen keine Gefährdung dar”, wurde betont. “Es ist höchst an der Zeit, dass das Strafrecht den wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen folgt”, mahnte Andrea Brunner, Geschäftsführerin der Aidshilfe Wien.

In der Vergangenheit seien HIV-positive Menschen trotz wirksamer Therapie und obwohl gar keine Übertragung stattgefunden habe, strafrechtlich zur Verantwortung gezogen worden. Es sei das Gefährdungspotenzial für eine Ansteckung unterstellt worden, so die Aidshilfen. 2020 hob das Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Graz eine solche erstinstanzliche Entscheidung mit der Begründung auf, dass eine erfolgreiche HIV-Therapie eine Strafbarkeit ausschließe.

Adäquate Therapie als Prävention
Die Paragrafen 178 und 179 im Strafgesetzbuch (StGB) “beziehungsweise die bisherige Rechtsprechung dazu” setze Menschen mit HIV aber weiterhin Diskriminierung und Stigmatisierung aus. Da erwiesen ist, dass eine regelmäßige und wirksame Therapie eine Weitergabe des HI-Virus unterbindet, würden Betroffene beim Geschlechtsverkehr jedoch keine “gefährdende Handlung” setzen, argumentiert die Aidshilfe. Da kein Risiko für eine Übertragung besteht, sei der Tatbestand des Paragrafen 178 (“Gefahr der Verbreitung”) nicht erfüllt. Die Angst vor strafrechtlichen Konsequenzen könne jedoch dazu beitragen, dass die Testbereitschaft bei Betroffenen sinkt.

Die Aidshilfen Österreichs fordern, dass eine HIV-Infektion nicht mehr von der Strafbarkeit von Paragraf 178f erfasst sein soll. Solange dies der Fall bleibt, “muss bei der Entscheidung durch ein Gericht der aktuelle Stand der medizinischen Forschung beachtet werden. Das bedeutet, dass sowohl Safer Sex als auch das konsequente Verfolgen einer medikamentösen Therapie als Ausschlussgrund für ein Verfahren gelten müssen.”

Breite Unterstützung von Parteien
Bei den im Nationalrat vertretenen Parteien stoßen die Forderungen großteils auf Unterstützung. Die Gesundheitssprecher von SPÖ, FPÖ tun dies vorbehaltlos. Neos-Gesundheitssprecherin Fiona Fiedler ist “grundsätzlich dafür, Diskriminierung abzubauen und Aufklärung voranzutreiben”, Gerichte würden den Stand der Wissenschaft aber schon jetzt berücksichtigen – “diese Forderung ist daher obsolet.”

Die Pressestelle des ÖVP-Parlamentsklubs verweist auf das Justizministerium. Dort werden die Forderungen der Aidshilfen aktuell geprüft, heißt es auf Nachfrage. Der grüne Gesundheitssprecher Ralph Schallmeiner hat, laut Pressestelle seines Klubs, bereits einen Termin mit Andrea Brunner, Geschäftsführerin der Aids Hilfe Wien, vereinbart, um etwaige Verbesserungen zu diskutieren. (APA, red, 25.10.2021)

 

Molecular HIV Surveillance “a perfect storm” in the context of HIV-related criminalisation

A new briefing paper published today by Positive Women’s Network-USA on behalf of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition aims to support people living with HIV, activists, legal experts, and human rights campaigners in understanding the complexities and consequences of molecular HIV surveillance (MHS). 

Molecular HIV Surveillance: A global review of human rights implicationsprovides a detailed explanation of what MHS is and how it is used across the globe, including how the technology works, where it is being conducted, and by whom. The paper describes growing human rights concerns relating to the use of this technology and goes on to list a number of recommendations for the use of MHS which were gathered from an international literature review and from members of the Expert Advisory Group.*

Molecular HIV surveillance (MHS) is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of practices focused on the monitoring of HIV variants and the differences and similarities between them for scientific research, public health surveillance, and intervention.

To conduct MHS, scientists rely on the results of HIV genetic sequencing tests taken from people living with HIV – these tests are often done before prescribing HIV medication to determine if the individual has a strain of HIV that is resistant to certain treatments. Interest in, and use of, MHS for reasons other than tailoring treatment regimens is increasing globally, however. Of particular concern, in some regions, MHS is being conducted and HIV data is being shared in ways that put the rights and safety of people living with HIV in jeopardy. 

“HIV is highly stigmatised and communities that are most vulnerable to acquiring HIV are already highly policed and at risk for violence” said Naina Khanna, co-executive director of Positive Women’s Network-USA, a US-based membership organisation led by women and people of transgender experience living with HIV. “In more than 30 states in the US alone, and over 100 countries around the world, people with HIV can be criminalised on the basis of their health condition. Taking this kind of data from people without their consent or knowledge and storing or sharing it without adequate protections is extremely risky and could come at the cost of someone’s personal safety, their livelihood, and in the case of HIV criminalisation, their freedom.”

The paper highlights how HIV experts and advocates have raised a range of human rights concerns about this technology. These include: 

  • Consent and autonomy; 
  • Lack of community consultation; 
  • Increased stigma on targeted communities; 
  • Privacy and data protections; 
  • Whether or not the technology can be used to “prove” direct transmission; and,
  •  How MHS may intensify HIV criminalisation within communities who are already marginalised and oppressed.

Edwin J Bernard, Executive Director of the HIV Justice Network and global co-ordinator of the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE coalition added: “MHS treats people living with HIV as ‘clusters’ and targets of public health interventions, rather than the beneficiaries of public health. When you combine MHS with HIV criminalisation it’s a perfect storm. That’s why I commissioned PWN-USA to produce this briefing paper as a first step to understand the problems and to suggest a range of possible solutions. With increased knowledge on the practices of MHS, individuals and organisations can be better equipped to advocate for ending research and surveillance practices that have the potential to harm the rights, autonomy, and well-being of people living with HIV.”

The paper provides wide-ranging recommendations for change aimed at various stakeholders, highlighting five key areas of action:

  1.   Take seriously and act upon community concerns about MHS.
  2.   Respect the bodily autonomy and integrity of people living with HIV in all our diversity.
  3.   MHS implementers must demonstrate a clear public health benefit that outweighs the potential harms of MHS, including by ensuring protections (i.e., data privacy, legal protections, social harms prevention, etc). These demonstrated benefits of MHS must measurably include people living with HIV.
  4.   Providers ordering HIV sequencing must inform people living with HIV about how their blood and data are being used for MHS purposes and be allowed to withdraw the consent if they so wish, without fear of negative consequences to their HIV treatment and care.
  5.   Implementers of MHS should publicly advocate against punitive or coercive laws and policies aimed at people living with HIV and ensure that MHS is never used in criminal, civil, or immigration investigations or prosecutions.

The paper is now available in four languages:

Watch the launch video below:

Follow the online conversation on Twitter by using the hashtags #EndMHS #DataPrivacy #DataProtection #HIVJustice and by following @HIVJusticeNet @uspwn

We gratefully acknowledge the financial contribution of the Robert Carr Fund to this report.

*MHS Expert Advisory Group

  • Naina Khanna & Breanna Diaz, Positive Women’s Network-USA
  • Edwin J. Bernard, HIV Justice Network
  • Marco Castro-Bojorquez, HIV Racial Justice Now (in memoriam)
  • Brian Minalga, Legacy Project
  • Andrew Spieldenner, US People Living with HIV Caucus
  • Sean Strub, Sero Project

September 14 is Sex Worker Pride!

HJN stands in solidarity with sex workers and asks everyone to support the upcoming Sex Worker Pride Day (September 14) that aims to increase the visibility of sex workers and their activism.

Sex Worker Pride is an opportunity to celebrate and share stories of sex workers’ self-determination and the achievements of the sex worker rights movement, according to the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) which began the day in 2019. NSWP upholds the voice of sex workers globally and connects regional networks advocating for the rights of female, male, and transgender sex workers.

NSWP states that Sex Worker Pride “extends to all marginalised by criminalisation, discrimination, and stigma across the sex worker movement and celebrates the diversity within our community during International Sex Worker Pride.”

Edwin J Bernard, HJN’s Executive Director says: “We stand in solidarity with all sex workers. Sex work is work. We oppose all forms of criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work, including sex workers, clients, third parties, families, partners, and friends.”

Sex Worker Pride is one of four international sex worker rights days observed every year: 3rd March (International Sex Workers Rights Day), 2nd June (International Sex Workers Day), and 17th December (International Day to end violence against sex workers)

To show solidarity, please join the conversation and organising on social media using the hashtag #SexWorkerPride.

Argentina: Organisations call for Congress to start discussing new HIV, STIs and Hepatits bill

They demand that the HIV and STI bill be dealt with

Translated via Deepl.com. For original article in Spanish, please scroll down.

The new proposal was presented on October 26, 2020. It is the third time it reaches Congress, and different organizations demand that it be debated.

The current HIV regulation (regulation 23.798) dates back to 1990. With the change of contexts and perspectives, it is understandable that it is now outdated and insufficient to guarantee rights.

To reverse this situation, the new bill on HIV, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs is waiting to be discussed in Congress. As already mentioned, the 24-page document was presented at the end of October and is the result of a network of 40 organizations.

With respect to the current regulation, it establishes a change of perspective: the 1990 regulation has a biomedical approach, while the current draft establishes a gender and human rights approach. It seeks to focus on the social determinants of health and the elimination of stigma.

“It is urgent the treatment because we have a law in force from 1990 that may not be a long time for other laws but for an issue such as HIV or other viral pathologies, taking into account the progress in recent years of science and social behavior in relation to these pathologies, it is necessary to update this purely biomedical character and move to a regulation that is a comprehensive response, with a Human Rights approach,” said Matías Muñoz, president of the Ciclo Positivo Association.

In relation to the previous point, the interviewee commented that although HIV is a virus that runs through people’s blood, it not only has consequences on physical health, but there is a social problem around HIV that is related to stigma and discrimination.

“Currently, a person with HIV has the possibility of accessing treatment free of charge, but there are other social barriers that prevent them from having a good quality of life, such as discrimination in access to employment, job discrimination, dismissal for having HIV, problems in the educational system or with the close environment,” said Muñoz.
Is this the first time that a proposal with these characteristics has been presented? No, the National Front for People’s Health had already worked together with organizations on this project, which entered Congress in 2018, but was shelved.

Following the previous paragraph, on December 1, 2019 it lost parliamentary status. But it was not the first time it happened, in 2016 the same thing happened, despite having favorable opinion of the Social Action and Public Health Committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

It is important to highlight the support that the proposal has from different political parties. We highlight that it bears the signature of 17 deputies of the Frente de Todos, UCR, Coalición Cívica, Pro, Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores and Partido Socialista.

Key points of the new bill
In its article 1, it declares of public and national interest -among other things- the medicines, vaccines, procedures and medical products for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs.

In another of its points, it establishes the integral and intersectoral response, which guarantees, for example, education and sensitization of the population, access to truthful, sufficient and updated information, and the reduction of risks and damages of stigma, discrimination and criminalization towards people with HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs.

It also includes palliative care and rehabilitation of these pathologies, including associated, derived and concomitant pathologies, as well as the adverse effects derived from them and/or their treatments.

This project contemplates universal and free coverage. The agents of the public health service, social security and prepaid medicine entities are obliged to provide comprehensive assistance to people affected by HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs.

In a clear way, the Ciclo Positivo Association highlights, among other points, the following:

– Prohibition of HIV, Hepatitis, TB and STI tests to enter a job position, in pre-employment medical examinations.
– Non-contributory pensions for people with HIV and Hepatitis B or C who have unmet needs. Provision of treatment for those who acquired the virus through vertical transmission and for other key populations such as women, transgender people, transvestites and non-binary people, etc.
– Creation of a National Commission on HIV, Hepatitis, TB and STIs integrated by different ministries, scientific societies and civil society organizations working on the issue.
– Extension of the provision of formula milk up to 18 months (previously only up to 6 months) for babies born to positive mothers.
– Creation of the National Observatory of Stigma and Discrimination within the orbit of INADI, in order to prevent the use of HIV infection, Hepatitis B or C, TB or any STI to prevent the exercise of rights.

There are expectations around this third presentation, due to the wide support of the project and the diffusion generated in the social networks in the last weeks, in order to promote its treatment in the Congress.

On this point, the president of Ciclo Positivo, said that “with the stir that has been achieved in the social networks in the last few days, the deputy Pablo Yedlin, president of the Health and Social Action Commission, told us that he is pleased with the possibility of having an opinion in the next few weeks”.

Although such a step would be taken after the primary elections, the claim must be kept in force. “We understand that we have a project supported by all the blocks, and for that reason, we consider that we can achieve the approval this year”, Muñoz concluded.


Exigen que se trate el proyecto de Ley de VIH e ITS

La nueva propuesta fue presentada el 26 de octubre del 2020. Es la tercera vez que llega al Congreso, y diferentes organizaciones reclaman que sea debatida.

La reglamentación vigente (normativa 23.798) de VIH data del año 1990. Con el cambio de contextos y perspectivas, es entedible que ahora esté desactualizada y que sea insuficiente para garantizar derechos.

Para revertir esta situación, el nuevo proyecto de Ley de VIH, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis e ITS espera ser tratado el Congreso. Como ya mencionamos, el documento de 24 páginas se presentó a fines de octubre, y es resultado de una red de trabajo con 40 organizaciones.

Respecto a la normativa vigente, establece un cambio de perspectiva, la de 1990 tiene un enfoque biomédico, en cambio, el proyecto actual fija un enfoque de género y de derechos humanos. Busca poner foco en los determinantes sociales de la salud y la eliminación del estigma.

“Es urgente el tratamiento porque contamos con una ley vigente del año 1990 que puede que para otras leyes no sea mucho tiempo pero para una cuestión como el VIH u otras patologías virales, teniendo en cuenta el avance de estos últimos años de la ciencia y el comportamiento social en relación a estas patologías, es necesario actualizar este carácter puramente biomédico y pasar a una normativa que sea de respuesta integral, con un enfoque de Derechos Humanos”, dijo Matías Muñoz, presidente de la Asociación Ciclo Positivo.

En relación al punto anterior, el entrevistado comentó que si bien, el VIH es un virus que recorre la sangre de las personas, no solamente tiene consecuencias en la salud física, sino que existe una problemática social alrededor del VIH que está relacionada con el estigma y la discriminación.

“Actualmente, una persona con VIH tiene la posibilidad de acceder a su tratamiento de manera gratuita, sin embargo hay otras barreras sociales que impiden que tenga una buena calidad de vida, como puede ser la discriminación en el acceso al empleo, la discriminación laboral, despidos por tener VIH, problemas en el sistema educativa o con el entorno cercano”, comentó Muñoz.
¿Es la primera vez que se presenta una propuesta con estas características? No, el Frente Nacional por la Salud de las Personas ya había trabajado en conjunto con las organizaciones sobre este proyecto, que ingresó al Congreso en 2018, pero fue cajoneado.

Siguiendo el párrafo anterior, el 1 de diciembre de 2019 perdió estado parlamentario. Pero no fue la primera vez que pasó, en 2016 sucedió lo mismo, a pesar de tener dictamen favorable de la Comisión de Acción Social y Salud pública de la Cámara de Diputados.

Es importante destacar el apoyo que tiene la propuesta de diferentes partidos políticos. Resaltamos que lleva la firma de 17 diputados y diputadas del Frente de Todos, UCR, Coalición Cívica, Pro, Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores y Partido Socialista.

Puntos claves del nuevo proyecto
En su artículo 1º, declara de interés público y nacional- entre otras cosas- los medicamentos, vacunas, procedimientos y productos médicos para la prevención, diagnóstico, tratamiento y cura del VIH, las Hepatitis Virales, la Tuberculosis y las ITS.

En otro de sus puntos, se establece la respuesta integral e intersectorial, que garantiza, por ejemplo, la educación y sensibilización de la población, un acceso a la información veraz, suficiente y actualizada, y la reducción de riesgos y daños del estigma, la discriminación y la criminalización hacia las personas con VIH, Hepatitis Virales, Tuberculosis e ITS.

Además se comprenden los cuidados paliativos y la rehabilitación de estas patologías, incluyendo las asociadas, derivadas y concomitantes, así como los efectos adversos derivados de las mismas y/o de sus tratamientos.

Este proyecto contempla la cobertura universal y gratuita. Los agentes del servicio público de salud, las obras sociales y las entidades de medicina prepaga, están obligadas a brindar asistencia integral a las personas afectadas por el VIH, las Hepatitis Virales, la Tuberculosis y las ITS.

De manera clara, la Asociación Ciclo Positivo, destaca, entre otros puntos, a los siguientes:

– Prohibición del test de VIH, Hepatitis, TBC e ITS para ingresar a un puesto de trabajo, en los exámenes médicos preocupacionales.
– Pensiones no contributivas para aquellas personas con VIH y Hepatitis B o C que tengan necesidades insatisfechas. Provisión de tratamientos para quienes adquirieron el virus por transmisión vertical y para otras poblaciones clave como mujeres, personas trans, travestis y no binaries, etc.
– Creación de una Comisión Nacional de VIH, Hepatitis, TBC e ITS integrada por distintos ministerios, sociedades científicas y organizaciones de la sociedad civil que trabajen el tema.
– Extensión de la provisión de leche de fórmula hasta los 18 meses (antes llegaba sólo a los 6 meses) para bebés de madres positivas.
– Creación del Observatorio Nacional de Estigma y discriminación en la órbita del INADI, en la búsqueda de que no se pueda utilizar la infección por VIH, Hepatitits B o C, TBC o cualquier ITS para impedir el ejercicio de los derechos.

Hay expectativas en torno a esta tercera presentación, por el amplio apoyo que tiene el proyecto y por la difusión que se generó en las redes sociales en las últimas semanas, para impulsar su tratamiento en el Congrego.

Sobre este punto, el presidente de Ciclo Positivo, dijo que “con el revuelvo que se ha logrado en las redes sociales en los últimos días, el diputado Pablo Yedlin, presidente de la Comisión de Salud y Acción Social, nos dijo que ve con beneplácito la posibilidad de tener dictamen en las próximas semanas”.

Si bien, dicho paso se daría después de las elecciones primarias, hay que mantener el reclamo vigente. “Entendemos que tenemos un proyecto apoyado por todos los bloques, y por eso, consideramos que podemos lograr la media sanción este año”, concluyó Muñoz.

HJN proudly joins the Support.Don’t Punish campaign

The HIV Justice Network is a proud supporter of the Support. Don’t Punish campaign now in its ninth year. Tomorrow, Saturday 26 June, is the campaign’s yearly high point, the Global Day of Action.

According to the campaign’s website, Support.Don’t Punish is a global grassroots-centred initiative in support of harm reduction and drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights. The campaign seeks to put harm reduction on the political agenda by strengthening the mobilisation capacity of communities targeted by the “war on drugs” and their allies, opening dialogue with policy makers, and raising awareness among the media and the public.

The theme for this year’s Global Day of Action is “Undoing the ‘war’, building the future that our communities have always deserved”. The date, 26th June is symbolic as it is used by most governments to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking to highlight their so-called ‘achievements’ in “the war on drugs.”

The Support. Don’t Punish campaign aligns with the following key messages:

  • The drug control system is broken and in need of reform.
  • People who use drugs should no longer be criminalised.
  • People involved in the drug trade should not face harsh or disproportionate punishments, where retained.
  • The death penalty should never be imposed for drug offences.
  • Drug policy should focus on health, well-being, and harm reduction.
  • Drug policy budgets need rebalancing to ensure health and harm reduction-based responses are adequately financed.

Last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Day of Action saw 288 events in 239 participating cities in 90 countries. The activities organised were incredibly varied and involved over 150 community representatives. In twelve of the regions, networks of people who use drugs were joined by initiatives from convergent movements (including people living with HIV, sex workers, and service providers), strengthening a solidarity block against criminalisation.

This year, we urge you to join the Support.Don’t Punish Global Day of Action. Visit their homepage to check out where activities are taking place near you, and use these resources to amplify the campaign’s messages on social media, including on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.