Russia: Court finds refusal to let migrant woman stay in Russia because of her HIV status unlawful

Court in Krasnodar invalidates refusal to allow a foreigner with HIV to stay in Russia

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

The Krasnodar Territory Department of the Russian Federal Consumer Rights Protection and Human Health Control Service decided that Uzbek citizen X. was undesirable in Russia because of her HIV positive status. The Leninskiy Court in Krasnodar found the ban discriminatory and unlawful.

The foreigner went to court to challenge the decision to ban her from staying in Russia, pointing out that her parents, brother and sister reside in Russia and have Russian citizenship, and she has never violated the law. When Rosia appealed to Rospotrebnadzor to cancel the decision, they replied that the procedure for cancellation or suspension under this category was not regulated by law and that the contested decision could only be cancelled on the basis of a court decision.

The court found that under the law On the Prevention of the Spread of Disease Caused by HIV in the Russian Federation, foreigners and stateless persons with such status may stay in the country if they do not violate administrative and criminal law. The Russian Constitutional Court has also confirmed the illegality of such restrictions.

As a result, the Leninskiy Court in Krasnodar ordered the regional department of Rospotrebnadzor to reverse the decision on the undesirability of the Uzbekistani citizen, who is now allowed to enter the country.


Суд в Краснодаре признал незаконным отказ во въезде в Россию иностранке с ВИЧ

Управление Роспотребнадзора по Краснодарскому краю приняло решение о нежелательности нахождения в России гражданки Узбекистана Р.Р. из-за ее положительного ВИЧ-статуса. Ленинский суд Краснодара признал запрет дискриминационным и незаконным.

Иностранка обратилась в суд, оспаривая решение о запрете пребывания в России, указав: ее родители, брат и сестра проживают в России и имеют российское гражданство, она ни разу не нарушала законодательство. Когда Розия обратилась в Роспотребнадзор с требованием отменить решение, там ответили – порядок отмены или приостановления по этой категории законодательно не урегулирован и отмена оспариваемого решения возможна только на основании решения суда.

Суд установил, что по закону “О предупреждении распространения в Российской Федерации заболевания, вызываемого ВИЧ” иностранцы и лица без гражданства с подобным статусом могут находиться в стране, если не нарушают административное и уголовное законодательство. Незаконность такого ограничения подтверждает и Конституционный суд России.

В итоге Ленинский суд Краснодара обязал региональное управление Роспотребнадзора отменить решение о нежелательности пребывания гражданки Узбекистана, которой теперь разрешен въезд в страну.

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: Pennsylvania’s governor signs bill subjecting people with a communicable disease to harsher penalties

Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf has signed bill HB 103. HB 103 creates two new, unnecessary, and broadly applicable felony offenses and subjects people with a communicable disease, such as HIV, to harsher penalties under law. As passed, HB 103 would create two new felonies:

  1. A new third-degree felony offense for something as small as “expelling” saliva on a police officer, punishable by up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines; and
  2. A new second-degree felony offense if the person knew or “should have known” they had a reportable, communicable disease if their actions could have transmitted a communicable disease—punishable by up to TEN YEARS in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

From LGBTQ Nation – By Daniel Villarreal

Democratic governor signs law punishing HIV transmission with up to 10 years in prison

As of 2022, 35 states have outdated and discriminatory laws that criminalize HIV exposure (and predominantly punish Black people).

Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf (D) just signed a new law that makes it a felony to pass on a communicable disease when they “should have known” that they had it, the HIV Justice Network reported.Opponents of the law worry it will be used to punish people with HIV or other STDs who unknowingly transmit it to sexual partners. Such HIV criminalization laws have disproportionately been used to target Black men and other men of color.

The law, known as HB 103, punishes people with up to 7 years in prison and $15,000 in fines for “expelling” saliva, blood, or another bodily fluid onto a police officer.

While the offense, a third-degree felony, has to be “intentional,” one could see an arrestee being charged with it if they accidentally spit onto an officer while talking or bleed onto an officer during a violent arrest.

The law also charges people with a second-degree felony if they knew or “should have known” that they had a communicable disease after transmitting it to someone else. The offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

This not only would apply to anyone who transmits HIV; it could also apply to people who unintentionally transmit hepatitis, influenza, chickenpox, and COVID-19.

The bill has been opposed by the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, the Anti-defamation League of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania HIV Justice Alliance, the Positive Women’s Network-USA, the Sero Project, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, Advocates for Youth, and many other groups.

“As a person living with HIV who was born and raised in Pennsylvania, the passing of HB 103 serves as a reminder that as we get closer to ending the HIV epidemic, we have a long way to go to end HIV stigma and the criminalization of people living with HIV,” said Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, Director of LGBTQ Health & Rights with Advocates for Youth.Medical professionals have said that HIV criminalization laws do nothing to stop the spread of the virus and may even encourage people not to get tested for fear that the knowledge could subject them to criminal penalties.

A 2018 Williams Institute study on HIV criminalization in Georgia found that “Black men and Black women were more likely to be arrested for HIV-related offenses than their white counterparts.” While 26 percent of HIV-related arrests were of white males, 46 percent of HIV-related arrests were of Black males.

Additionally, 11 percent of those arrested were white females, while 16 percent were Black females.As of 2022, 35 states have laws that criminalize HIV exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many of the laws were passed at a time when little was known about HIV and millions were dying from the virus.“Many of these state laws criminalize actions that cannot transmit HIV – such as biting or spitting – and apply regardless of actual transmission, or intent,” the CDC wrote.

“After more than 40 years of HIV research and significant biomedical advancements to treat and prevent HIV transmission, many state laws are now outdated and do not reflect our current understanding of HIV.”

Lesotho high court finds imposition of death sentence solely on the basis of HIV status unconstitutional

Court decision upholds that people living with HIV have the same right to life as all others

Joint news release from the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS, HIV Legal Network and HIV Justice Network

 

On 25 October 2022, the High Court of Lesotho in the case of MK v Director of Public Prosecutions and Others issued a judgment on a constitutional challenge to certain sections of the Sexual Offences Act that impose mandatory HIV testing on persons accused of sexual offences, and subsequently impose a death sentence on persons convicted of sexual offences solely based on their HIV-positive status.

The case was supported by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), HIV Legal Network – all members of HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE (HJWW) Steering Committee coordinated by the HIV Justice Network (HJN) – as well as Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN). Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (LENEPWHA) was admitted as Amicus Curiae. The petitioner and Amicus Curiae were represented by Advocate Molati, Advocate Mokhathali, Advocate Masaeso, Advocate Mohau (K.C) and Advocate Letuka.

The petitioner challenged the constitutionality of section 32(a)(vii) of the Sexual Offences Act which appeared to impose a mandatory death sentence on people convicted of sexual offences who were HIV-positive and were aware of their status. The petitioner also challenged section 30 of the Act, which requires mandatory HIV testing for persons arrested and charged under the Act. The petitioner argued that the imposition of a mandatory death sentence solely on the grounds of HIV status, and mandatory HIV testing upon arrest, breached the constitutional rights to life, equality and non-discrimination, equal protection of the law, privacy, and dignity and that they contribute to stigma against people living with HIV.

In a judgment written by Justice Makara, the High Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, declared that section 32(a)(vii) of the Sexual Offences Act was unconstitutional to the extent that it imposes a death sentence solely on the basis of a person’s HIV status, as this was discriminatory and amounted to inhumane treatment. The Court said that people convicted of sexual offences should be sentenced according to the mitigating or aggravating circumstances rather than HIV status alone, and that the law should be interpreted so as not to require a mandatory death sentence for a person living with HIV.

“People living with HIV have the right to life, as all people do. Imposing the death penalty based on a person’s HIV-positive status is the most extreme form of discrimination possible. We welcome the Lesotho High Court’s decision to end this terrible human rights violation.” Edwin J Bernard, HIV Justice Network, global coordinator, HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE.

“While recognizing the serious impact of sexual violence, the judgment is an acknowledgment that the over-broad use of criminal laws and sanctions solely based on HIV status is unjust and not justified by a scientific and human-rights based approach” Maketekete Alfred Thotolo, Executive Director, LENEPWHA.

 

Download the pdf of the news release here

 

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

Canada: Federal government opens its promised public consultation on HIV criminalisation law reform

Ottawa launches public consultation on reforming the criminal law on HIV non-disclosure

The federal government has opened its promised public consultation to help develop a policy roadmap for reforming the criminal law on HIV non-disclosure.

After reading the newly posted consultation paper on HIV non-disclosure, lawyers and other members of the public are invited to share their views until Nov. 20, via an online survey.

“HIV is first and foremost a public health matter and non-disclosure of HIV status is a complex issue,” Justice Minister David Lametti said in an Oct. 20 announcement. “Our government recognizes that the criminalization of people living with HIV can lead to stigmatization and significant hardships. This is why we are consulting Canadians on the best approach to reform the criminal law regarding HIV non-disclosure. It will help us find solutions, and will lead to better outcomes for affected populations.”

The government estimates 63,000 people live with HIV in Canada and 10 per cent may be unaware of their status.

“HIV non-disclosure” refers to criminal cases where a person living with HIV, who is aware of their status and knows they are infectious, does not disclose their HIV status before otherwise consensual sexual activity that poses a realistic possibility of transmission.

Questions asked in the consultation paper include:

  • Whether charges under the Criminal Code’s sexual assault provisions are appropriate in HIV non-disclosure cases;
  • Whether an intention to transmit, or actual transmission, should be requirements for criminal charges to be laid;
  • Whether criminal law should apply in cases where an accused has taken precautions to protect their sexual partner(s) from transmission; and
  • Whether a new HIV, sexually transmitted infection (STI), or infectious-disease-specific offence should be created to address HIV non-disclosure cases.

Right now those living with HIV, who don’t disclose their status prior to sexual activity that poses a risk of transmission, can be charged with various offences, including aggravated sexual assault — the most serious sexual assault offence in the Criminal Code.

However, criminalization can lead to the stigmatization of people living with HIV, which can often discourage individuals from being tested or seeking treatment, the Department of Justice (DOJ) says in a press release.

The DOJ notes that there has been considerable progress made in treating HIV and in the scientific evidence on rates of transmissibility.

The consultation is among the Liberal government’s commitments in its 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan, launched last August. “Reforming the criminal law regarding HIV non-disclosure is an essential step in ensuring that Canadian justice policy advances the dignity and equality of 2SLGBTQI+ people,” the DOJ said.

In 2020, 1,639 newly diagnosed cases of HIV were reported in Canada, with most receiving appropriate treatment, the government noted.

On Dec. 1, 2017, the DOJ published a report, the Criminal Justice System’s Response to Non-Disclosure of HIV, that included a summary of the scientific evidence on sexual transmission of HIV and that was produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

On Dec. 8, 2018, the Attorney General of Canada also issued a directive related to the prosecution of HIV non-disclosure cases under federal jurisdiction which specifies, among other things, that prosecutions should not occur when an individual takes appropriate measures to prevent transmission of HIV (such as taking appropriate treatment to maintain a suppressed viral load), and that prosecutors must consider whether criminal charges are in the public interest.

 

Canada: Federal government must review past criminal cases of HIV nondisclosure for possible wrongful convictions

Ottawa urged to review past HIV cases for wrongful convictions

Canada has been described as a “global hot spot” by advocacy groups for HIV nondisclosure prosecutions. One lawyer hopes to change that.

The federal government must review past criminal cases of HIV nondisclosure for possible wrongful convictions, says the president of Ontario’s Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

Such a review would highlight the pressing need for a permanent commission to proactively review wrongful convictions in all cases, said Daniel Brown — something that a panel of retired judges recommended to the government, but which has yet to take shape.

“Yes, we want the government to carefully consider how this commission should be established, but they’ve had more than enough time to get this commission off the ground,” Brown said, “and if the government was motivated to see a wrongful conviction commission, it would exist already.”

Brown was speaking in the wake of the recent successful appeal of his firm’s client, Jennifer Murphy.

She had been convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 2013 for not disclosing her HIV-positive status in a consensual sexual encounter, despite having a low viral load due to antiretroviral medication which made it impossible for her to transmit the virus.

Canadian law requires an individual living with HIV to disclose their status to a sexual partner if there is a realistic possibility of transmission. At the time of Murphy’s conviction, it was generally understood within the legal system that disclosure was not necessary if the individual had both a low viral load and used a condom. No condom was used in the Murphy case.

The federal government says it wants to reform the law around nondisclosure, recognizing that a low viral load alone means there can be no realistic possibility of transmission. Consultations with advocacy groups are set to take place this month.

Canada has been described as a “global hot spot” by advocacy groups for HIV nondisclosure prosecutions, with more than 220 by the end of last year. Individuals are usually convicted of the crime of aggravated sexual assault, which carries a prison sentence and mandatory registration on the sex offenders registry.

Brown said there needs to be a plan to review those cases for circumstances similar to Murphy’s, where individuals had been convicted of a serious criminal offence despite being unable to transmit the virus — in other words, convicted because the law had not caught up with the science.

Reviewing wrongful convictions is also one of the four main demands put to the government in a statement released this year by the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization and signed by dozens of organizations.

Without commenting on specific cases, a spokesperson for Justice Minister David Lametti pointed out that individuals can appeal their case if they believe there has been an error. “Many errors and miscarriages of justice are corrected by appeal courts across the country,” said Chantalle Aubertin.

But Brown said that’s an “exhaustive and expensive” process, even more so for individuals convicted for HIV nondisclosure, who may already face stigma along with barriers to employment due to having a criminal record. It’s not a process they can navigate on their own, he said.

In the Murphy case, Brown said she had to file a formal motion seeking an extension of time to bring her appeal, retain an infectious diseases expert, and have lawyers spend multiple days arguing over admissibility of evidence.

“It was a lengthy process that lasted well over three years and an expensive one as well, even with lawyers who were prepared to donate their time for free,” Brown said.

“Simply saying that people can take their case before the appeal courts fails to recognize those barriers that exist, and that’s why it’s important that a wrongful conviction review be created to address these concerns.”

Under the current wrongful conviction review process, once an individual convicted of any crime has exhausted all of their rights to appeal, they can request that their case be reviewed by a special group at the justice department — a process that can take years. The minister then ultimately decides whether the application should be granted or dismissed.

“This is the process now, and it is one we accept needs to be improved,” Aubertin said.

Last year, a report to the government from former judges Harry LaForme and Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré recommended the creation of an independent commission to proactively review cases that might have resulted in wrongful convictions, saying such a body was “urgently required.”

Aubertin said Lametti is “fully committed” to the creation of a commission, and that the policy work necessary to create it is underway.

“Minister Lametti would like the commission ready to launch by the end of his mandate — but it is important that we take the time to do this properly. Too much is at stake,” she said.

Uganda: Mandatory testing of people under arrest is contrary to the provisions of the Patients Charter and the Constitution of Uganda

Activists warn on mandatory HIV testing of suspects

Health rights activists and lawyers have warned of evasion of privacy and confidentiality for arrested suspects once they are subjected to mandatory testing for HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
On Tuesday, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) launched a programme that will see all arrested suspects, who will be detained in the pilot 16 police stations around the Kampala Metropolitan Area, subjected to mandatory screening for HIV/Aids, TB and malaria.

This, according to the office of the DPP, is aimed ensuring the right to health for employees of the criminal justice system, victims of crime and suspects.
But the president of the Uganda Law Society, Mr Bernard Oundo, yesterday warned that despite government having the mandate to protect its citizens against certain killer diseases, it has to do so with an enabling piece of legislation.

Ms Esther Dhafa, the programme officer for strategic litigation at Center for Health, Human Rights and Development, warned that the move is contrary to the provisions of the Patients Charter and the Constitution.
“Every patient has a right to be given adequate and accurate information about diagnostic procedures to be conducted on them, and the proposed treatment to enable them make an informed decision,” Ms Dhafa cautioned.
Ms Dhafa added that even after the mandatory tests are conducted, the safety and confidentiality of the information regarding one’s status is not guaranteed and could end up in wrong hands.

Likewise, another health rights activists, Mr Gracias Atwiine Germany, said the programme is a setback in in the fight against HIV/Aids.
“Forced disclosure and testing of people living with different health conditions will escalate stigma and discrimination,” Mr Atwiine said.
However, last evening, Ms Jacquelyn Okui, the spokesperson of the office of the DPP, said the only mandatory tests should be for TB and malaria and not HIV/Aids.
“The tests for HIV shall not be mandatory. However, suspects of crime will be encouraged to undergo testing for both their benefit and the benefit of others in the criminal justice system,” she said.

Central African Republic: New HIV law focussing on the social protection of people living with HIV voted by parliamentarians

Central African Republic: HIV and AIDS bill passed

Translated via DEEPL.com – For the original article in French, please scroll down.

The bill was passed by acclamation by parliamentarians at the plenary session of 6 October 2022. The Central African Republic is one of the countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Central Africa with a prevalence rate of 2.7% (2021). This bill reinforces Law n°06.030 of 12 September 2006 establishing the rights and obligations of people living with HIV/AIDS, with a focus on the social protection of people living with HIV (PLWHA).

The Minister of Public Health and Population, Dr Pierre SOMSE, validly defended the draft law in front of the elected representatives who did not hesitate to give their approval by acclamation.

In the report of the Joint Commission presented by Deputy Armel BIROT, it emerged that the Central African Republic is still one of the countries most affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Central Africa. Thus, the CAR, through the Ministry of Health with the support of partners, wants to take up the challenge of an AIDS-free generation by taking into account all the issues raised by this pandemic and preserving human capital.

Although there are shortcomings in the document, this did not prevent the MPs from appreciating the content of the document, unlike the 2006 law, which was full of gaps and shortcomings relating to the rights of PLHIV.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to have consequences on the national economy, the low mobilization of financial resources for the fight, stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, shortcomings in the psycho-social and legal care related to this pandemic.

Minister Pierre SOMSE emphasized the elements contained in the present law, among which are HIV testing which is now from 18 to 12 years old, prevention against the disease, repression of discrimination which raises a legal problem and the promotion of human rights.

“The bill meets the expectations of the Ministry of Health,” said Minister Pierre SOMSE.

UNAIDS Country Director Cris FONTAINE welcomed the vote saying: “This is a great victory for people living with HIV and people at high risk of HIV infection. The protections in this law improve access to HIV services. It is also a victory for all the people of the Central African Republic. When people have access to HIV services, we can eliminate this terrible disease.

The UNAIDS country director said the process of implementing this bill is to “make sure that the population is aware of the law, what it says, and why it is important. Then plan the next step which is to ensure that mechanisms are in place to enforce the law.

According to the national coordinator of the Central African Network of People Living with HIV (RECAPEV), Bienvenu GAZALIMA, access to a balanced diet before taking antiretrovirals (ARVs) remains one of the difficulties to overcome. In the Central African Republic, the number of PLWHA is estimated at around 88,000 people. About 54,000 are on ARV treatment according to the UNAIDS country office, said the national coordinator of RECAPEV. “ARVs are available, but you need a balanced diet to be able to take these drugs.

The situation of PLHIV in CAR still remains a challenge with regard to human rights violations linked to stigmatisation and discrimination.

The new law can be previewed in French at https://academy.hivjustice.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Projet-de-Loi-VIH-paraphe%CC%81e-2022.pdf 


Centrafrique : le projet de loi relatif au VIH et au SIDA est voté

Le projet de Loi est voté par acclamation par les députés réunis en session plénière le 6 octobre 2022. La République Centrafricaine est l’un des pays les plus affectés par la pandémie du VIH/SIDA en Afrique Centrale avec un taux de prévalence de 2,7 % (2021). Ce projet de loi vient renforcer la Loi n°06.030 du 12 septembre 2006 fixant les droits et obligations des personnes vivant avec le VIH/ SIDA avec un point d’orgue sur la protection sociale des Personnes Vivant avec le VIH (PVVIH).

Le Ministre de la Santé Publique et de la Population, Dr Pierre SOMSE, a valablement défendu le projet de Loi devant les Elus du peuple qui n’ont pas hésité à donner leur approbation par acclamation.

Dans le rapport de la Commission Mixte présenté par le député Armel BIROT, il ressort que la République Centrafricaine reste toujours l’un des pays les plus affectés par la pandémie du VIH et du SIDA en Afrique Centrale. Ainsi, la RCA à travers le ministère de la santé avec l’appui des partenaires veut relever le défi d’une génération sans SIDA en prenant en compte toutes les questions soulevées par cette pandémie et préserver le capital humain.

Il y’a des insuffisances dans le document certes, cela n’a pas empêché les députés d’apprécier le contenu du document contrairement à la loi 2006 qui a regorgé des lacunes et insuffisances relatives aux droits des PVVIH.

La pandémie du VIH/SIDA ne cesse d’enregistrer des conséquences sur l’économie nationale, la faible mobilisation des ressources financières pour la lutte, la stigmatisation et discrimination à l’égard des personnes vivant avec le VIH/SIDA, des faiblesses quant à la prise en charge psycho-sociale et juridique liée à cette pandémie.

Le Ministre Pierre SOMSE a mis l’accent sur les dimensions contenues dans le présent texte de loi entre autres le dépistage qui passe désormais de 18 ans à 12 ans, la prévention contre la maladie, la répression des discriminations qui pose un problème de droit et la promotion des droits humains.

« Le projet de loi répond aux attentes du Ministère de la Santé », a souligné le Ministre Pierre SOMSE.

Le directeur-pays de l’ONUSIDA, Cris FONTAINE, s’est réjoui de ce vote en ces termes : « Il s’agit d’une grande victoire pour les personnes vivant avec le VIH et les personnes à haut risque d’infection par le VIH. Les protections prévues par cette loi améliorent l’accès aux services liés au VIH. Il s’agit également d’une victoire de tout le peuple de la République Centrafricaine. Lorsque les gens ont accès aux services VIH, nous pouvons éliminer cette terrible maladie ».

Le directeur pays de l’ONUSIDA a précisé que le processus de mise en œuvre de ce projet de loi est de « s’assurer que la population est consciente de loi, de ce qu’elle dit, et pourquoi elle est importante. Ensuite projeter la prochaine étape qui consiste à s’assurer que des mécanismes sont en place pour appliquer la loi ».

Selon le coordonnateur national du Réseau Centrafricain des Personnes vivant avec le VIH (RECAPEV), Bienvenu GAZALIMA, l’accès à une alimentation équilibrée avant de prendre les Antirétroviraux (ARV) reste l’une des difficultés à surmonter. En République Centrafricaine, l’effectif des PVVIH est estimé à environ 88 000 personnes. Environ 54 000 sont mises sous traitement ARV selon le bureau-pays de l’ONUSIDA, a précisé le coordonnateur national du RECAPEV. « Les ARV sont disponibles certes, mais il faut une alimentation équilibrée pour pouvoir prendre ces médicaments ».

La situation des PVVIH en RCA reste toujours un défi concernant les violations des droits humains liées à la stigmatisation et la discrimination.

US: Indiana bipartisan legislative panel unanimously recommends scrapping most of the state’s HIV criminalisation laws

Indiana Panel Recommends Repealing HIV Penalties

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Members of a bipartisan legislative panel on Tuesday said Indiana’s HIV laws are unnecessarily discriminatory and don’t accomplish anything.

The general assembly convenes interim study committees every year to look into policy matters between legislative sessions. A panel tasked with reviewing the state’s criminal code voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend lawmakers scrap most of the state’s penalties concerning people who live with HIV.

“Our understanding of HIV has changed a lot since the 1980s when this was enacted, and a lot of the testimony proved out that a lot of our current laws surrounding the criminal penalties for HIV are no longer valid,” committee chair Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, said.

Current state law makes it a felony for someone living with HIV to donate blood or semen. There also are laws requiring people with HIV to disclose their status to sexual or needle-sharing partners and imposing harsher penalties for battery involving body fluids if the accused attacker is HIV-positive. McNamara said testimony over the past few weeks revealed prosecutors rarely use such laws and there is no risk of transmission when someone is taking their required viral suppression medications. Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said Indiana law does not penalize people with other serious diseases in the same way.

“Now we have a situation where we have drugs that treat the disease. There’s actually drugs that prevent it from spreading and it’s no longer a death sentence,” he said. “So, it makes sense to change those laws.”

Lawmakers filed legislation this year to repeal several penalties, including those dealing with blood donations. The legislation passed out of a House committee, but never got a floor vote. McNamara said her panel’s endorsement could give similar legislation a boost next year. She said lawmakers would leave some penalties in place for cases where someone tried to deliberately infect another person with HIV.

Any changes to the criminal code still have to go through the legislative process. Lawmakers won’t begin debating bills until the next legislative session begins in January.