US: North Dakota Legislature rejects bill to modernise outdated HIV-criminalisation law

North Dakota lawmakers reject bill to soften HIV transmission law

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, D-Fargo, said the penalty for knowingly transmitting HIV is unfairly harsh and doesn’t align with the infractions North Dakotans face if they willfully infect someone with any other sexually transmitted disease, such as hepatitis or syphilis.

BISMARCK — The Republican-led North Dakota House of Representatives widely rejected a bill on Wednesday, Jan. 13, that would have lessened the penalty for knowingly transmitting HIV.

Currently, residents who consciously infect a sexual partner with the virus could face a Class A felony, which comes with up to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. House Bill 1106 would have made the offense an infraction, which carries a fine up to $1,000 and no jail time.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, D-Fargo, said the penalty for knowingly transmitting HIV is unfairly harsh and doesn’t align with the infractions North Dakotans face if they willfully infect someone with any other sexually transmitted disease, such as hepatitis or syphilis.

All but one Republican on the House Judiciary Committee voted to give the bill a “Do Not Pass” recommendation on Tuesday, Jan. 12, because they believed an infraction for transmitting HIV was not a harsh enough punishment.

Only three people have been convicted with a felony under the current law.

There were an estimated 468 North Dakota residents with HIV in 2019, but 80% are virally suppressed, meaning they are very unlikely to transmit the virus, according to the state Department of Health.

Year in review: Celebrating successes, highlighting the many challenges ahead

This past year has shown us what happens when one pandemic –  HIV – is overshadowed by another pandemic, COVID-19.  Despite the many lessons learned from our collective advocacy against HIV criminalisation that we and our HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE partners highlighted in March, these lessons were mostly ignored by policymakers around the world.

The result was a series of knee-jerk legal, policy and police responses leading to the overzealous policing of people living with HIV and other key and inadequately served populations already subject to existing inequalities in law and policy, which we have been highlighting in our HIV Justice Weekly newsletter since March.

This latest pandemic overshadowed, and in some cases undermined, the work we and others have been doing to ensure a fair, just, rational and evidence-based response towards people living with HIV by the criminal justice system.

This past year we documented at least 90 cases of unjust HIV criminalisation in 25 countries, with Russia and the United States being the worse offenders.  Women living with HIV were accused in 25% of those cases. Three of these cases were for breastfeeding.  In the United States, more than 50% of those accused in HIV criminalisation cases were people of colour.  

2020 also saw Poland passing a new law against COVID-19 that also increased the criminal penalty for HIV exposure, and number of disappointing HIV criminalisation higher court appeals in the US (Ohio), and Canada (Ontario and Alberta) that appeared to ignore science over stigma.

And yet, despite the many difficulties of 2020, the movement to end unjust HIV criminalisation has continued to gain momentum.

In the United States, Washington State modernised its HIV-specific criminal law in March, reducing the ‘crime’ from a felony to a misdemeanour, adding in a number of defences, and eliminating the sex offender registration requirement.  Earlier this month, legislators in Missouri published plans to modernise its HIV-specific criminal law next year.

In Europe, Sweden abolished the legal requirement to disclose HIV status in March, the Spanish Supreme Court set an important precedent for HIV criminalisation cases in May, and in June, Scottish police ended the stigmatising practice of marking people living with HIV as ‘contagious’ in their database.

In Francophone Africa, HIV-specific criminal law reform in Benin and across the region is looking likely thanks to a recognition that existing laws do not reflect up-to-date science.

And in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a process to completely abolish the draconian HIV-specific criminal law in Belarus has begun.

There is still so much more to do, however.  Despite these successes, as well as the many milestones the HIV JUSTICE WORLDWIDE movement has achieved since its launch in 2016, we will not rest until everyone living with HIV in all their diversity is treated equally, fairly and justly by all actors of the criminal justice system.

Belarus: Process to abolish HIV criminalisation statutes in Belarus criminal code has been launched

On improvement of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus and the exclusion of Article 157 “HIV infection”

Translation via Deepl.com – For article in Russian, please scroll down.

People PLUS in action

The legal environment for HIV-positive people will be further improved. The process has been launched. On the eve of December 1 a letter from the Deputy Chairman of the Permanent Commission on National Security of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus A.V. Dubov was received by the Public Association “PLUS People”.

“I would like to inform you that the proposals to make amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus in the part of abolishment of articles 157 and 158 that were received from the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus in my address have been considered together with interested state bodies. Proposals to repeal Articles 157 and 158 have been sent for consideration and taken into account in the course of finalizing the draft laws.

Proposals to amend the Criminal Code were formed at the Round Table “Maintenance of the status of elimination of HIV transmission from mother to child. Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus in the part of abolition of articles 157 and 158”, which was held on September 28, 2020 with the participation of Deputies of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, the Deputy Minister and heads of departments of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus, country offices of UNAIDS and WHO, the Republican associations of the Belarusian Red Cross Society and Public Association “PLUS People”.

In their presentation, “PLUS People” RSO told the participants of the Round Table about the benefits that the improvement of legislation will bring to society.

“The qualification of crimes related to HIV infection, not according to a special article, but according to the articles for harm to health and how the cases of private and public prosecution will develop in the society a culture of caring about each person’s own health and measures to prevent HIV infection and other diseases”.

People will no longer be afraid to know their HIV status and will be bravely tested for HIV.

People living with HIV:

After learning the diagnosis, they will not avoid being registered at the dispensary.
be able to exercise their right to establish a family and have children without fear
will not be victims of blackmail, extortion and intimidation
We express our gratitude to the brave people who dared to tell the audience of the Round Table their life stories about how they faced stigma and discrimination, thereby confirming and strengthening the arguments for the exclusion of Article 157 from the Criminal Code of RB, cited by ROO “PLUS People”.


О совершенствовании Уголовного кодекса РБ и исключении ст. 157 «Заражение ВИЧ»

Правовая среда в отношении ВИЧ-положительных людей будет дальше совершенствоваться. Процесс запущен. Накануне 1 декабря в адрес РОО “Люди ПЛЮС” пришло письмо от Заместителя председателя Постоянной комиссии по национальной безопасности  Палаты представителей Национального собрания Республики Беларусь А.В. Дубова.

«Информирую о том, что поступившие из Министерства здравоохранения Республики Беларусь в мой адрес предложения о внесении изменений в Уголовный кодекс Республики Беларусь в части отмены статей 157 и 158 рассмотрены совместно с заинтересованными государственными органами.Принимая во внимание, что в Министерстве юстиции Республики Беларусь создана межведомственная рабочая группа по подготовке проектов кодексов об уголовной ответственности, в рамках деятельности которой предполагается изучение основных направлений совершенствования Уголовного, Уголовно-процессуального и Уголовно-исполнительных кодексов. Предложения в части отмены статей 157 и 158 направлены для рассмотрения и учета их в ходе доработки законопроектов».

Предложения о внесении изменений в Уголовный кодекс были сформированы на Круглом столе «Поддержание статуса элиминации передачи ВИЧ от матери ребёнку. Внесение изменений в УК РБ в части отмены статей 157 и 158», прошедшем 28 сентября 2020 г. с участием Депутатов Палаты представителей Национального собрания Республики Беларусь , Заместителя Министра и руководителей управлений Министерства здравоохранения РБ, страновых офисов ЮНЭЙДС и ВОЗ, Республиканских объединений «Белорусского Общества Красного Креста» и РОО «Люди ПЛЮС».

РОО «Люди ПЛЮС» в своей презентации рассказывали участникам Круглого стола о том, какую пользу совершенствование законодательства принесёт обществу.

«Квалификация преступлений в связи с заражением ВИЧ , не по специально выделенной статье, а по статьям за причинение вреда здоровью и, как дела частного и частно-публичного обвинения будут развивать в обществе культуру заботы каждого человека о собственном здоровье и мерах профилактики заражения как ВИЧ-инфекции, так и других заболеваний».

Люди перестанут боятся узнать свой ВИЧ-статус и будут смело тестироваться на ВИЧ. 

Люди, живущие с ВИЧ:

  • узнав диагноз, не станут избегать постановки на диспансерный учёт
  • без страха смогут реализовывать право на создание семьи и рождение детей 
  • не станут жертвами шантажа, вымогательства и запугиваний

Выражаем благодарность смелым людям, которые решились рассказать аудитории Круглого стола свои жизненные истории, о том как они столкнулись со стигмой и дискриминацией, тем самым подтверждая и усиливая аргументы за исключение ст. 157 из УК РБ, приведённые РОО “Люди ПЛЮС”.

 

US: Missouri legislators prefile legislation to modernise HIV criminalisation statutes

Lawmakers promote legislation to ‘decriminalize HIV’ on World AIDS Day

Rep. Phil Christofanelli and incoming Sens. Holly Rehder and Greg Razer pre-filed legislation to change Missouri’s laws regarding people with HIV on World AIDS Day Tuesday. 

“It’s special that we get to file our bills on this day,” Rehder told The Missouri Times. “We’ve had so many advancements in HIV treatment since the 80s when our statutes were put in place, and medical professionals, researchers, and scientists know so much more about it now than they did. Living with HIV is not a death sentence any longer, and it’s incredibly important to remove the stigma.”

The legislators joined a virtual press conference with multiple advocacy groups Tuesday, where Rehder outlined her planned legislation. She said she will sponsor a “harm reduction package” which includes establishing a statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), ensures safe syringe access, and modernizes the state’s HIV regulations. The provisions were staples of her tenure in the House.

Current Missouri statute mandates an individual who is knowingly infected with HIV not act in a “reckless” way that could expose another person to the disease without his or her knowledge or consent. Violating the statute could result in a Class A or B felony, depending on if another individual contracted HIV. 

The way the statute is written deters people from finding out his or her status and seeking appropriate treatment, advocates say. The statute also suggests an HIV diagnosis is equivalent to a death sentence, but Rehder said modern medicine tells a different story.

The bill would update the language to reflect more recent research on the disease since the law was enacted in the 1980s, including removing spitting from the list of “reckless” actions. 

Christofanelli said he would sponsor two HIV-related bills in the lower chamber next year, including a similar modernization provision.

“I think that we need to let people know that while science has not yet found a way to cure HIV, we certainly have the tools at our disposal to end HIV if we take the correct actions,” Christofanelli said. “To that end, I intend to file two pieces of legislation in the upcoming session in order to put Missouri at the forefront of preventing the spread of HIV in our communities and helping those afflicted with the disease.” 

The other piece would concern Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP), relatively new treatments for the disease. The bill would allow pharmacists to screen patients and prescribe the treatment over-the-counter. Now, patients must make a doctor’s appointment to receive a prescription for PREP which could cause them to receive it past the critical three-day exposure period. The bill would also allow patients to receive a 30-day prescription of PEP after receiving a negative test for HIV. He said the use of the treatments greatly reduced the risk of contracting HIV.

Razer said he would be handling the bill on the Senate side. 

“Our state’s HIV-specific law was originally passed in the late ’80s, when our cultural understanding of HIV was informed by fear and stigma,” Missouri HIV Justice Organizer Molly Pearson said. “Thanks to advances in modern medicine, people living with HIV can live long, healthy lives without transmitting the virus. Using criminalization as a public health intervention simply does not work, and it upholds the stigma and fear of HIV that got us here in the first place.”

World AIDS Day has been observed on Dec. 1 every year since 1988. The day was set aside to educate the public about the disease and examine the future of the fight against it. 

Tuesday was also the first day of pre-filing for the Missouri legislature. 

US: Advocates in Nevada work to repeal or amend laws that criminalise the behaviour of People living with HIV

Civil Rights Groups Look To Modernize Nevada’s HIV Laws

Today is World AIDS Day.  

An international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic and remembering those who have died from the disease.

Civil and LGBTQ+ rights groups across Nevada are pushing for the state to modernize laws concerning people living with HIV.  

Nevada is one of 32 states that criminalizes the behavior of people living with HIV, making it a class-B felony for someone knowingly having HIV to engage in behavior that could transmit the virus to someone else.

But groups in the state want to change those laws so the disease is treated like other communicable diseases where people who knowingly spread it can face misdemeanor charges, not a felony. 

“We have a lot of work to do to modernize our laws so that people living with HIV are faced with stigmas, and also so that these HIV laws that criminalize behavior aren’t having a negative effect on public health goals,” said Andre Wade, state director for Silver State Equality. 

Wade explained that the state and the nation have plans to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic but people who have the disease need to be engaged to execute those plans and to get them to be engaged they need to not feel stigmatized when they reveal their status.

“If we are stigmatizing them and criminalizing them, it is hard to engage them in plans to help end the epidemic,” he said.

Wade said the laws like the ones in Nevada were passed when less was known about the disease, and people were looking for ways to take HIV positive people out of society.

“These laws were created when we knew very little about HIV and AIDS and there was a lot of fear about homosexuality and a lot of misinformation,” he said.

In addition, Wade said someone is more likely to transmit the disease if they don’t know their status than if they do. 

Stephan Page is the co-chair of NV HIV Modernization Coalition. He said there have been a few instances around the country of someone knowingly and intentionally spreading the disease, and there have been more cases of innocent people being charged with spreading the disease. 

“Across the country, tons of people living with HIV got convicted for engaging in behavior where they truly can’t transmit HIV,” Page said.

Page said some people have been convicted under these kinds of laws even though they are on anti-viral medication and have a very low viral load in their bodies, and therefore, can’t transmit. There are also cases of people using protection during sex but still getting convicted because the judge didn’t believe them. 

Plus, bad information about how the virus is transmitted still hurts innocent people. Page said there are cases of people who have been convicted of knowingly spreading HIV because they spit on someone. HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva. 

Governor Steve Sisolak last year signed a bill that will review Nevada’s HIV laws.

Page said his coalition went through Nevada statutes and found 13 laws impacting HIV positive people that they want to be repealed or amended. Four of those statutes are the main ones the coalition is focusing on.

Besides the part of the law that makes transmitting HIV a felony, the coalition wants to change the part of the law that covers intent. 

“We recommend that this law be amended so that actual intent is truly required,” he said, “We want to ensure that yes true criminals who are intentionally, willingly and knowingly going around transmitting HIV are still getting convicted, but we want to ensure that innocent people do not fall through the cracks and get wrongfully convicted.”

They also want to see a change to the laws around sex work. Legal sex workers in Nevada cannot work in brothels if they have an HIV positive diagnosis.

Illegal sex workers will get a felony enhancement if they are HIV positive. The coalition wants to get rid of that enhancement for people who are living with HIV and performing illegal sex work.

Much of the effort to reform or repeal Nevada laws impacting people living with HIV is to change the stigma around the disease.

Connie Shearer is the co-chair of the NV HIV Modernization Coalition. She also lives with the virus. In 1996, she contracted HIV from her husband when she was 19. She was 21 when she was diagnosed. 

Now, years later, Shearer still faces a stigma.

“The stigma is – I don’t want to say it’s as bad as 1996 – but it’s almost just as bad,” she said.

Shearer said she’ll share up-to-date information about HIV, like the fact that someone using anti-HIV medication with undetectable levels of the virus means he or she can’t transmit it, online and people won’t believe her.  

“What’s important for me today is making sure people have access to the science around HIV so they know that whenever they’re diagnosed they don’t have to give up anything. Your life does not have to change at all, except that you take some medication now and that’s it,” she said.

Guests

Andre Wade, State Director, Silver State Equality; Connie Shearer, Co-Chair, NV HIV Modernization Coalition; Stephan Page, Co-Chair, NV HIV Modernization Coalition

Benin: Expert Consensus Statement on the Science of HIV in the Context of Criminal Law frames discussions on HIV criminalisation law reform in Benin and across Francophone Africa

UNDP brings together experts to review Law 2005-31 of 10 April 2006 on HIV/AIDS

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized, this Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at L’Infosec in Cotonou, a workshop to exchange and share information on scientific data on HIV in the context of criminal law.

This meeting which brought together several experts, has the main objective of exchanging and sharing information on issues and reforms inherent to the criminalization of HIV in the world in general and Benin in particular with regard to the consensus statement of experts.

Specifically, the aim was to make the participants familiar with and take ownership of the experts’ consensus statement, understand the issues of HIV criminalization, and analyze the impact of this statement on HIV laws around the world, in particular in francophone Africa and Benin.

On the agenda of the meeting was the law N° 2005- 31 of April 10, 2006 on the prevention, care and control of HIV and AIDS in the Republic of Benin.

On this occasion, the Deputy Coordinator of the Health Program for the Fight against AIDS, Dr. Bachabi Moussa was delighted to start the process of revising the law on HIV prevention and care in Benin.

For him, this law deserves to be updated in view of the evolution of HIV/AIDS.

For her part, Joséphine Kanakin, UNDP Gender, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS Program Officer, said that the law needs to be reviewed through exchanges and sharing of important and scientific information in order to adapt it to reality.

Opening the workshop, the Executive Secretary of the National Council for the Fight against AIDS (CNLS), Tuberculosis and Hepatitis, Melchior Aïssi insisted on the fruitful exchanges between the experts.

He specified that the consensus of the experts in the context of positive criminal law is calmed down to the Beninese positive law.  “Our wish and the wish of the government is to humanize HIV/AIDS because in the existing laws are the crucibles of stigmatization and discrimination.

“AIDS should be considered like any other disease that can be treated anywhere and anytime, it would be much more humanized. Let the health facilities be able to welcome them everywhere and in all services. Giving a specific place for their treatment is already a stigma,” he suggested.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative José Herman Wabo expressed his organization’s expectations.
“We want to fill a gap in the existing legal framework to provide a comprehensive legal framework to support people affected by HIV/AIDS. Beyond a simple workshop, these are exchanges that will affect the lives of some people by providing solutions.

Gatien ELEGBEDE


Le PNUD réunit des experts pour la révision de la Loi 2005-31 du 10 avril 2006 sur le VIH/Sida

Le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD) a organisé, ce mardi 10 novembre 2020 à L’Infosec de Cotonou un atelier d’échanges et de partage d’informations sur les données scientifiques relatives au VIH dans le contexte du droit pénal.

Cette rencontre qui a réuni plusieurs experts, a pour objectif principal de d’échanger et de partager les informations relatives aux enjeux et réformes inhérents à la pénalisation du VIH dans le monde en général et au Bénin en particulier au regard de la déclaration de consensus des experts.

De façon spécifique, il s’est agi d’amener les participants à prendre connaissance et s’approprier la Déclaration de consensus des experts, comprendre les enjeux de la pénalisation du VIH, analyser l’impact de cette déclaration sur les lois sur le VIH dans le monde en l’occurrence en Afrique francophone et au Bénin en particulier.

Au menu des échanges de la rencontre, la loi N° 2005- 31 du 10 Avril 2006 portant prévention, prise en charge et contrôle du VIH Sida en République du Bénin.

À l’occasion, le Coordonnateur adjoint du Programme Santé de Lutte contre le Sida, Docteur Bachabi Moussa se réjouit de démarrage du processus de révision de la loi portant prévention et prise en charge du VIH au Bénin.

Pour lui, cette loi mérite d’être actualisée au vue de l’évolution du VIH/Sida.

Pour sa part, la chargée de programme Genre, Droits humains et VIH/Sida du PNUD, Joséphine Kanakin précise qu’il s’agit d’examiner la loi par des échanges et le partage des informations importantes et scientifiques pour l’adapter à la réalité.

Procédant à l’ouverture de l’atelier, le Secrétaire Exécutif du Conseil National de Lutte contre le SIDA (CNLS), la tuberculose, les hépatites, Melchior Aïssi a insisté sur les échanges fructueux entre les experts.

Il précise que le consensus des experts dans le contexte du droit pénal positif soit calmé au droit positif béninois.  » Notre souhait et le souhait du gouvernement est d’humaniser le VIH/Sida parce que dans les lois existantes se trouvent les creusets de la stigmatisation et des discriminations.

« Il faut considérer le SIDA comme toute autre maladie qui peut être traitée partout et à tout moment, ce serait beaucoup plus humanisé. Que les formations sanitaires soient capables de les accueillir partout et dans tous les services. Le fait de donner un endroit spécifique pour leur traitement est déjà une stigmatisation » a t-il laissé entendre.

Le représentant résident adjoint du PNUD, José Herman Wabo, a fait part des attentes de son organisation.
« Nous souhaitons combler un vide noté dans le cadre légal existant afin d’en offrir un cadre légal complet afin d’apporter un appui à ces personnes affectées par le VIH /Sida. Au delà d’un simple atelier, ce sont des échanges qui vont affecter la vie de certaines personnes en leur apportant des solutions ».

Gatien ELEGBEDE

Vietnam: Assembly debates bill on HIV that would mandate HIV disclosure to sex partners

Revisions for Vietnam HIV/AIDS law proposed to National Assembly

The Ministry of Health has recommended some revisions to the Law on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, which is expected to help the country end the disease by 2030.

The proposal was made by acting Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long at a National Assembly meeting on Friday.

Despite gaining many positive results in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the current law still has some shortcomings with no specific regulation on who is entitled to access information about HIV patients.

According to the minister, the revised law should regulate that HIV//AIDS carriers need to inform their sex partner that they are infected. People aged from 15 can decide to take HIV/AIDS tests by themselves instead without parents or guardians. Under the current law, only people aged from 16 can do this.

He also added that it is also important to regulate resources when campaigning against HIV/AIDS.

Long emphasised that Vietnam was among Germany, the UK and Switzerland as offering the best HIV/AIDS treatment in the world.

Over the past 12 years, Vietnam has maintained a community HIV infection rate of below 0.3%.

Every year, the country provides HIV tests for more than 70,000 people at high-risk groups, detecting between 8,000-10,000 new cases.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that Vietnam had provided preventive measures to stop 400,000 people from being infected with HIV while 150,000 received treatment that prevented death from AIDS.

At the meeting, some National Assembly delegates proposed compulsory HIV/AIDS tests for people of vulnerable groups.

Uganda: HIV activists ask government to review the HIV/AIDS law and remove clauses that criminalise HIV

Activists, chief justice call for review of HIV/AIDS law

By Betty Amamukirori, John Masaba

The majority of the HIV-positive persons are living in fear of the law and many choose not to disclose their status.

HIV/AIDS activists have asked the Government to review the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2014, saying it is fuelling stigma and discrimination.

The activists, while speaking at the Philly Bongole Lutaaya memorial lecture, said the law has clauses in it that if left unchanged could undo the country’s gains in the fight against the disease.

Dora Musinguzi, the executive director of Uganda Network on Law and Ethics (UGANET), said clauses that criminalise HIV, especially intentional transmission are causing more harm because it’s scaring people away from testing, disclosing their status to the spouses or seeking treatment.

She pointed out clauses such as sections 41 and 43 which spell out punishments for attempted transmission of HIV and intentional transmission, respectively.

“We need to do everything it takes to repeal this law, especially the punishment for exposure to HIV/AIDS. We need to remove the criminalisation under the law because it is causing more harm,” Musinguzi said.

The activists said the majority of the HIV-positive persons are living in fear of the law and many choose not to disclose their status to their significant others for fear of prosecution. This, they said, has fuelled self-stigma.

Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, in his keynote address as the guest speaker, agreed that the law needs to be amended if Uganda is to achieve its goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. His address was read by the Judiciary’s Chief Registrar, Sarah Langa.

Owiny-Dollo called on Parliament to enact and review laws that will improve the wellbeing of the society especially the people living with HIV.

“The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2014 may need to be reviewed,” he said.

“Ending HIV requires enabling legal and social environments that guarantee the health, dignity and security of all people living with or at risk of HIV. This is the only way to ensure that all those in need of HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support have access to these services without fear of discrimination, exclusion or bias,” Owiny-Dollo said.

He said much as there are enabling laws on non-discrimination on the basis of one’s HIV status, the HIV-positive still face limitations when seeking justice. These include lengthy proceedings and an unfriendly court environment.

The lecture was held under the theme Access to HIV services during COVID-19 pandemic. It was held at the Office of the President auditorium and was notably attended by the late Lutaaya’s children, friends, activists, musicians living with HIV. The HIV prevalence is 6.2% amongst adults aged 15-64 years; 7.6% in women and 4.7% in men.

Tezra Lutaaya, a daughter of the deceased, said although her father championed the fight against the disease, stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive persons is still rife.

“I strongly believe that an end to HIV is in sight if we continue to fight stigma, make sure seamless information and access to all interventions are available and that we continue to have dialogue with the young people both infected and affected by HIV,” she said.

Esther Mbayo, the Minister for the Presidency, said if AIDS is to be ended by 2030, there is need to exhibit the spirit of Philly Lutaaya.

“We need to get out of our comfort zones, especially now that we are dealing with two pandemics — HIV and COVID-19. On an individual level, we need to test for HIV with our partners and together irrespective of the results, decide to prevent HIV,” she noted.

She called for deliberate efforts to reach those at most risk of getting infected with HIV in order to reduce the high HIV prevalence and towards ending stigma and discrimination.

Owiny-Dollo urged the Government to prioritise creating awareness, promoting advocacy that reaches the young people and all generations with messages on HIV and AIDS.

Argentina: New bill presented to parliament by 60 organisations to improve HIV response, including reduction of HIV criminalisation

Por una nueva Ley de VIH/Sida, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis e ITS

Automatic translation via Deepl. For original article in Spanish, please scroll down.

August 16 marked the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the National HIV/AIDS Law passed in 1990. This week, a bill for a comprehensive response to HIV, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis and STIs was formally presented to the Chamber of Deputies. The bill was drafted by the National Front for the Health of People with HIV, which brings together more than 60 organisations, including the Argentine Network of Positive Youth and Adolescents (RAJAP), the Argentine Network of Women living with HIV and AIDS, the National Furia Trava Board of Directors, and the Argentine Homosexual Community (CHA), among others. Two projects have already been presented, one in 2016 and the other in 2018, but both lost parliamentary status.

By Christian García for SUDAKA TLGBI

The new modifications presented aim to provide a comprehensive response to all the inequalities that have been intensified in recent decades. Article 2 establishes that a comprehensive response is understood as “one that guarantees research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, cure, interdisciplinary assistance (social, legal, psychological, medical, pharmacological and others), education and awareness of the population, access to truthful, sufficient and updated information, reduction of risk and harm, stigma, discrimination and criminalization of people with HIV, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis and STIs.

The project addresses the rights of people in prison or shelter settings, working rights and conditions, pensions and retirement, obstetric violence, positive diagnosis of HIV and Viral Hepatitis, blood, tissue and organ donation, among others. It proposes to prohibit discriminatory practices in the labour field including pre-employment testing which is still carried out, in violation of a resolution of the Ministry of Labour of 2015. There is also a strong emphasis on universal and free coverage by public health service agents, social works, prepaid medicine entities and all those who provide medical care services to members.

Another of the project’s central points is the creation of a National Commission on HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STIs which is made up of state agencies, scientific societies and civil society organizations working on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis. Another article also establishes the creation of a National Observatory on HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and STI Stigma and Discrimination within INADI’s orbit “in order to make visible, document, deter and eradicate violations of the human rights of affected persons”.

Gonzalo Valverde, RAJAP seropositive activist, welcomed the initiative considering that the law passed in 1990 was very advanced for the time in terms of access to rights, but that “due to the terminology it uses and the current realities it is very outdated, since it does not cover viral hepatitis, tuberculosis and other STIs. In addition, he said that a law is needed that not only considers the biomedical aspects “but also social, political, economic, labor aspects or access to housing, education, among other points.

President Alberto Fernandez had stated on the social network Twitter before taking office, that “The State will once again assume its responsibility in the response to HIV” anticipating the complaints and denunciations that organizations had been expressing about the lack of medicines during the previous government and the necessary updating of the law. “Ensuring treatment, expanding testing, expanding condom distribution, funding research and guaranteeing CSE,” he emphasized on December 1, 2019. If so, this project would add to the progress made in terms of rights such as the Comprehensive Sex Education Law, the Equal Marriage Law, the Gender Identity Law, the Micaela Law and the Transvestite-Trans Labour Quota approved by presidential decree.

The Bill, with the file in the House of Representatives 5040-D2020, has the signatures of representatives of the Frente de Todxs block (Ana Carolina Gaillard, Leonardo Grosso, Cecilia Moreau, Mara Brawer, Mónica Macha, Itai Hagman, Ayelén Sposito), the Unión Cívica Radical (Brenda Austin, Ana Carla Carrizo), the Coalición Cívica (Maximiliano Ferraro), the Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (Romina Del Plá), and the PRO (Silvia Gabriela Lospennato).

History of HIV/AIDS regulations

Law No 23789 – Adopted in 1990. It declares the fight against AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), including HIV detection and research, to be of national interest. Furthermore, it declares the mandatory testing of blood for the virus and its antibodies in blood intended for transfusions and for donors of organs for transplants.

Law n° 24455 – Sanctioned in 1995. It establishes that the social works and associations of social works of the national system must incorporate medical coverage, psychological and pharmacological assistance to AIDS patients and drug addicts.

Law n° 2554. Enacted in 2002. It establishes the obligation to make the human immunodeficiency virus diagnostic test available to pregnant patients, and to carry it out with informed consent. It obliges health establishments to cover the test, as well as to have an interdisciplinary team that advises and supports the patient and her family from the moment the test is positive until the end of the postpartum period.

Since 2007 the State, through the Directorate of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (DSyETS), has been distributing free penis condoms in hospitals and health centres, community canteens, neighbourhood clubs, trade unions, dance halls, meeting places, etc.


El 16 de agosto pasado se cumplieron 30 años de la promulgación de la Ley Nacional de VIH/SIDA aprobada en el año 1990. Esta semana se presentó formalmente ante la Cámara de Diputados de la Nación un proyecto de ley de respuesta integral al VIH, las Hepatitis Virales, la Tuberculosis y las ITS. El proyecto fue redactado por el Frente Nacional por la Salud de Personas con VIH, el cual nuclea más de 60 organizaciones, como la Red Argentina de Jóvenes y Adolescente Positivos (RAJAP), Red Argentina de Mujeres viviendo con VIH y sida, Consejo Directivo Nacional Furia Trava, Comunidad Homosexual Argentina (CHA), entre otras. Con anterioridad ya fueron presentados dos proyectos, uno en el año 2016 y otro en el 2018, pero ambos perdieron estado parlamentario.

Por Christian García para SUDAKA TLGBI

Las nuevas modificaciones presentadas tienen como objetivo brindar una respuesta integral a todas las desigualdades que se fueron intensificando en las últimas décadas. En su artículo 2 establece que se entiende por respuesta integral “a aquella que garantiza la investigación, prevención, diagnóstico, tratamiento, cura, asistencia interdisciplinaria (social, legal, psicológica, médica, farmacológica y otras), educación y sensibilización de la población, acceso a la información veraz, suficiente y actualizada, reducción de riesgos y daños, del estigma, la discriminación y la criminalización hacia las personas con VIH, Hepatitis Virales, Tuberculosis e ITS”.

El proyecto contempla los derechos de las personas en contexto de encierro o instituciones de albergue, derechos y condiciones laborales, jubilaciones y pensiones, violencia obstétrica, diagnóstico positivo de VIH y Hepatitis Virales, donación de sangre, tejidos y órganos, entre otras. Propone que se prohíban las prácticas discriminatorias en el ámbito laboral incluyendo los exámenes pre-ocupacionales que todavía se siguen realizando, incumpliendo una resolución del Ministerio de Trabajo del 2015. También se hace fuerte énfasis en la cobertura universal y gratuita por parte de los agentes del servicio público de salud, las obras sociales, las entidades de medicina prepaga y todos aquellos que brinden servicios médicos asistenciales a las personas afiliadas.

Otro de los puntos centrales del proyecto es la creación de una Comisión Nacional de VIH, Hepatitis Virales, Tuberculosis e ITS que esté conformada por agencias estatales, sociedades científicas y con las organizaciones de la sociedad civil con trabajo en VIH, Hepatitis Virales y Tuberculosis. También, otro artículo establece la creación de un Observatorio Nacional sobre estigma y discriminación por VIH, Hepatitis Virales, Tuberculosis e ITS en la órbita del INADI “con el fin de visibilizar, documentar, disuadir y erradicar las vulneraciones a los derechos humanos de las personas afectadas”.

Gonzalo Valverde, militante seropositivx de RAJAP, celebró la iniciativa considerando que la ley aprobada en 1990 fue muy avanzada para la época en términos de acceso a derechos, pero que “por las terminologías que usa y las realidades actuales queda muy desactualizada, ya que no contempla a las Hepatitis Virales, la Tuberculosis y las otras ITS”. Además, sostuvo que es necesaria una ley que no contemple únicamente los aspectos biomédicos “sino también aspectos sociales, políticos, económicos, laborales o el acceso a la vivienda, a la educación, entre otros puntos”.

El Presidente Alberto Fernández había manifestado en la red social Twitter antes de asumir su cargo, que “El Estado va a volver a asumir su responsabilidad en la respuesta al VIH” anticipando los reclamos y las denuncias que las organizaciones venían expresando sobre el faltante de medicamentos durante el Gobierno anterior y la necesaria actualización de la Ley. “Asegurar el tratamiento, expandir el testeo, ampliar la distribución de preservativos, financiar la investigación y garantizar la ESI”, enfatizó el 1 de Diciembre del 2019. De ser así, este proyecto se sumaría al avance de derechos conquistados como la Ley de Educación Sexual Integral, la Ley de Matrimonio Igualitario, la Ley de Identidad de Género, la Ley Micaela y el Cupo Laboral Travesti-Trans aprobado por decreto Presidencial.

El Proyecto de Ley, con el expediente en Diputados 5040-D2020, cuenta con las firmas de representantes del bloque Frente de Todxs (Ana Carolina Gaillard, Leonardo Grosso, Cecilia Moreau, Mara Brawer, Mónica Macha, Itai Hagman, Ayelén Sposito), la Unión Cívica Radical (Brenda Austin, Ana Carla Carrizo), la Coalición Cívica (Maximiliano Ferraro), el Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (Romina Del Plá), y el PRO (Silvia Gabriela Lospennato).

Historización de la normativa de VIH/SIDA

Ley n° 23789 – Se aprobó en el año 1990. Declara de interés nacional la lucha contra el SIDA (Síndrome de Inmunodeficiencia Adquirida), incluyendo la detección e investigación del VIH. Además, declara la obligatoriedad de realizar pruebas de detección del virus y de sus anticuerpos en la sangre destinada a transfusiones y a los donantes de órganos para trasplante.

Ley n° 24455 – Sancionada en el año 1995. En ella se establece que las obras sociales y asociaciones de obras sociales del sistema nacional deben incorporar cobertura médica, asistencia psicológica y farmacológica de pacientes de SIDA y drogodependientes.

Ley n° 2554. Promulgada en el año 2002. Se establece la obligatoriedad de hacer disponible a la paciente embarazada el test diagnóstico del virus de inmunodeficiencia humana, y realizarlo con consentimiento informado. Obliga a los establecimientos sanitarios a dar cobertura al test, como así, también contar con un equipo interdisciplinario que asesore y contenga a la paciente y su familia desde el momento en el que el resultado del test de positivo hasta finalizar el puerperio.

Desde el año 2007 el Estado, a través de la Dirección de SIDA y enfermedades de transmisión sexual (DSyETS), distribuye preservativos de penes gratuitos en los hospitales y centros de salud, comedores comunitarios, clubes de barrio, sindicatos, boliches bailables, lugares de encuentro, etc.