Global Commission newsletter highlights recent developments on HIV and the law around the world

Dear subscribers, We are delighted to share issue 2 of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law Newsletter – Issue 2 for 2013. Since the last Newsletter was released, there have been a number of significant developments on HIV and the law some of which are briefly described below in digest format.

UNAIDS launches first-ever Judicial Handbook on HIV, Human Rights and the Law: Interview with UNDP's Mandeep Dhaliwal

The meeting also looked at specific actions that can be taken by Judges, to create a more supportive environment for people with HIV and key populations that are at-risk. UNAIDS also launched the first-ever Judicial Handbook on HIV, Human Rights and the Law at the meeting.

UNDP releases collation of progressive jurisprudence on HIV, Human Rights and the Law

The Compendium of Judgments, HIV, Human Rights and the Law, is a collation of progressive jurisprudence on HIV-related matters that highlights how the law has been used to protect individual rights. The compendium presents a user-friendly compilation of judgments from different national and regional jurisdictions.

UNDP releases report highlighting experiences and lessons learned from national HIV laws in Asia and the Pacific

This report is a direct follow-up to Global Commission on HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health (July 2012) and the Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law convened in Bangkok in February 2011.

AIDS laws in Asia and the Pacific are failing to protect those most vulnerable | ReliefWeb

New UNDP study highlights gaps in human rights protections for people living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific Bangkok – Legal protections are unevenly enforced and human rights violations persist for people living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific.

US: REPEAL ACT to modernise HIV criminalisation laws reintroduced with bipartisan support

Yesterday, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee (Democrat) was joined by Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican) to introduce a new version of the ‘Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal HIV Discrimination Act’ (the ‘REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act’, or the ‘REPEAL Act’) first introduced by Congresswoman Lee in September 2011.

The REPEAL Act was the first to take on the issue of HIV criminalisation in the United States. The first time around it achieved 41 co-sponsors, all of whom were Democrats.

It is notable this this time, the REPEAL Act (known formally as H.R. 1843) has intially been co-sponsored by a Republican, suggesting the Act may go further this time and make it out of committee and on to the floor for consideration.

A press release issued yesterday by Congresswoman Lee’s office summarises the proposed legislation (which can be read in full and downloaded below):

“These laws are based on bias, not science. We need to make sure that our federal and state laws don’t discriminate against people who are living with HIV. These laws breed fear, discrimination, distrust, and hatred, and we’ve got to modernize them. That’s exactly what this legislation would do,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Today, 32 states and 2 U.S. territories have criminal statutes based on outdated information regarding HIV/AIDS. This bipartisan legislation would allow federal and state officials and community stakeholders to work together to review the efficacy of laws that target people living with HIV/AIDS. The REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act would authorize the Attorney General, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Defense to monitor new and existing laws imposing criminal liability against people with HIV/AIDS and to establish a set of best practices for legislatures to consider when proposing such legislation.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen added, “I’m pleased to co-sponsor this bipartisan bill that will help end the serious problem of discrimination in criminal and civil cases against those who are HIV positive. Singling out and discriminating against those living with HIV is not in line with our American values and we must do better. The legislation seeks to modernize our current outdated laws and bring them into the 21st century. I urge my Republican and Democrat colleagues to join Barbara and me in helping those persons living with HIV live as healthy and normal a life as possible.”

If passed, the act will be a key step towards ending unfair and unjust HIV criminalization laws in the United States by developing a set of best practices for the treatment of HIV in criminal and civil commitment cases, issuing guidance to states based on those best practices, and monitoring how states change policies consistent with that guidance.

REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act of 2013

Kan. health agency pledges to protect AIDS/HIV patients from quarantines, clearing bill's path

TOPEKA, Kansas – A promise from Kansas’ health department Thursday to continue protecting AIDS and HIV patients from being quarantined has resolved a dispute over a legislative proposal for helping medical personnel and emergency workers who may have been exposed to infectious diseases.

Nigeria: State Action Committee on AIDS to be transformed into an agency to ensure the passage of new anti-HIV stigmatisation bill into law

Home > State > Akwa-Ibom > Akwa Ibom to enact law against HIV/AIDS stigmatisation By Nkechi on April 3, 2013 Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Dr Francis Udoikpong, has said that the government will soon enact a law against stigmatization of persons living with HIV/AIDS in Akwa Ibom state.

Ghana AIDS Commission proposes new supportive and enabling HIV law

GAC holds policy dialogue on human rights, HIV and law Ghana needs a roadmap for the proposal of an HIV/AIDS prevention and control law to consolidate gains made so far by the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC) and its partners.

Uganda: As second reading of controversial national HIV law awaits, activists hope regional HIV law – with no HIV criminal statute – will take precedence

Activists in Uganda are seeing an opportunity to shoot down the country’s controversial HIV Bill that criminalises transmission of the Aids virus and enforces mandatory testing, after President Yoweri Museveni signed a more liberal one proposed by the East African Community.  They want Uganda’s parliament to incorporate into law the EAC HIV and Aids Prevention Bill (EAC HIV Bill) that President Museveni signed last week. More than 30 NGOs in Uganda find the national law that is awaiting a second reading in parliament offensive, saying that it could exacerbate the spread of HIV. Laws passed by the East African Legislative Assembly take precedence over national laws. President Museveni can also prevail upon the Ugandan parliament to drop the bill.