Over 140 HIV activists convened in Johannesburg, South Africa this week to take stock of progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, according to a press release.
Six years ago, the first Africa Regional Dialogue on HIV and the Law took place, and thereafter a report was released and recommendations made, such as ensuring that countries do not enact laws that explicitly criminalise HIV transmission, HIV exposure or failure to disclose HIV status, because where such laws exist, they are counterproductive and must be repealed.
“While most African countries have made national, regional and international commitments to protect human rights and address HIV and TB, legal barriers continue to impede the health and rights of people on the continent,” said Michaela Clayton, Director of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa.
“This is an important opportunity for us to review how far we have come in implementing the recommendations of the Global Commission report, to identify the barriers that remain to implementing these recommendations and to identify how we can overcome these barriers.”
The statement further read that although significant progress has been made in the HIV and TB responses across Africa, significant challenges remain with respect to legal and policy environments for key and vulnerable populations, including people living with HIV and TB, sex workers, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
Since the Commission’s report in 2012, significant progress has been made in addressing legal barriers to effective HIV and TB responses across Africa.
For example, Mozambique has revised its law on criminalising unintentional HIV transmission and the High Court of Kenya has found a law criminalising HIV transmission to be unconstitutional.
Further, Seychelles decriminalised adult consensual same-sex relations in 2016 and the High Court of Botswana has ruled that foreign prisoners living with HIV are entitled to receive lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.