Yemen's Parliament is expected to begin debating a law that aims to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and address related stigma and discrimination, Yemen's The National reports. Abdulbari Daghish -- chair of the Parliamentarians Organization To Prevent HIV/AIDS, which drafted the law -- said that people living with HIV/AIDS face widespread and multiple forms of discrimination and that their rights should be protected.
Daghish said that "there is a need for this law in order to protect the rights of the people living with HIV" and to "ensur[e] they get proper medication and care." According to Daghish, some HIV-positive people are fired from their jobs or find it difficult to receive treatment and care. He added that the "draft law addresses all these sorts of discrimination and outlaws them." Under the proposed law, people living with HIV/AIDS will have access to no-cost health care, public health facilities, financial support and no-cost psychological resources. The law also stipulates that a government fund be established in cooperation with the private sector to support people living with the disease and their families.
According to Abdulhamid al Suhaibi, director of Yemen's National AIDS Programme, during the first three months of 2008, 47 new HIV cases were reported in the country, increasing the total number of recorded cases to 2,370. However, World Health Organization reports suggest that for every reported case of HIV, there are as many as 30 unreported cases. Khalid Abdulmajeed -- the AIDS program officer for the United Nations Development Programme in Sana'a, Yemen -- said, "People are afraid to talk about" living with the disease. He added, "There is no legal protection for such patients. There is no efficient health system to provide medicine and advisory. All these (factors) make the situation frightful and HIV/AIDS a silent disease." Abdulmajeed noted that officials from Yemen and UNDP signed a $10.6 million, three-year agreement to strengthen the fight against the disease in the country. However, "HIV/AIDS issues must be incorporated into government policy and legislation" to effectively address the disease, Abdulmajeed said, adding, "The work being done is less than what it should be due to lack of institutional work among government agencies" (Al Qadhi, The National, 7/7).
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