Lack of implementation hinders SADC HIV and human rights efforts
While SADC countries have made progress in addressing some aspects of HIV/AIDS and human rights laws, most countries are selectively applying international guidelines on HIV/AIDS and human rights.
This is according to a report published recently by AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA).
The report, which was unveiled at the SA AIDS conference, describes the extent to which SADC countries have implemented the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights
The guidelines declare that availability and accessibility of treatment, protecting people with HIV (PLWA) from unfair discrimination and creating supportive structures for groups vulnerable to HIV/AIDS are some of the fundamental human rights issues relating to HIV/AIDS.
SADC countries have made progress in the provision of HIV treatment with a million more people having been put on treatment in 2007. However, only 14% of SADC countries are reaching 70% of those in need of treatment. Stumbling blocks include lack of facilities in rural areas, legislation prohibiting children from accessing treatment without parental involvement and lack of health care workers.
SADC countries have started responding to HIV/AIDS as a human rights issue by adopting laws that protect the rights of PLWA but the anti-discrimination provisions don’t extend to those that are vulnerable to HIV infection due to discrimination particularly women, migrants and people in same sex relationships.
Six out of 10 PLWA in southern Africa are women yet women are subjected to gender discrimination and treated like second class citizens in many SADC countries.
In addition, most SADC countries criminalise same-sex relationships while migrants and displaced people struggle to get access to health services.
Many SADC countries have criminal sanctions if PLWA do not reveal their status to others immediately. Six countries have created new crimes to deal with harmful HIV-related behavior but do not take into account the difficulties PLWA face ‘ such as physical abuse and being evicted from their homes ‘ because of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
In the report, ARASA calls for laws to protect people who test HIV positive from discrimination and violence based on their status.
‘ Health-e news