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Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol cover the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010)

Law Reform in the Context of HIV: Are Human Rights Protected or Compromised?

July 19, 2010

Transcript (.pdf)

For more information on this session, including access to speaker presentations, please see the conference Programme-at-a-Glance.

It is widely recognised that human rights protections are key to an effective response to HIV and AIDS, and that law reform processes are imperative to secure human rights in the context of HIV. In reality, however, some policy and law reform processes appear to be determined more by public health needs, than by the need to secure human rights, and fail to address the underlying social and structural factors increasing prevailing HIV risks and vulnerabilities of most affected groups, such as women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, drug users and sex workers thus, perpetuating their marginalisation, human rights violations, and limited access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. To ensure that law reform furthers human rights protections in the context of the AIDS response, it seems essential to share and learn from past experiences of 'successful' law reform; to engage with crucial areas of law reform processes, such as women's rights, harm reduction, decriminalisation of sex work, as well as same-sex relationships, and the criminalisation of HIV transmission; and to identify ways to effectively address the social and structural factors fuelling the pandemics. The purpose of this session is to assess whether or not law reform is an adequate tool that guarantees the protection of human rights in the HIV and AIDS response; to explore whether or not law reform has the potential to address underlying social and structural factors increasing HIV risks and vulnerabilities; to provoke discussion on the extent to which law reform processes can potentially threaten human rights protections; and to identify mechanisms of how to ensure that law reform is a tool to both secure human rights and respond to HIV and AIDS realities and needs.

Presentations in This Session:

Opening Remarks

Sofia Gruskin (United States)
Director, Program on International Health and Human Rights
Harvard School of Public Health

Law Reform as a Tool to Advance Women's Rights in the Context of HIV: Experience from Malawi

Seodi White (Malawi)
National Coordinator, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA)

Sex Workers' Rights in the Context of Law Reform and HIV: Progress and Retreat in Decriminalising Sex Work

Nandinne Bandyohpathy (India)
Associate Director, HIV and SRH (Sexual and Reproductive Health)

Drug Use, Harm Reduction Policies and HIV Risks: Where are the Human Rights Protections?

Irina Maslova (Russian Federation)
Director, Club Silver Rose

Anti-Homosexuality Legislation in the Context of HIV: Advocacy Responses to Law Reform Trends in Africa

Felicita Hikuam (Namibia)
Programmes Manager, AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA)

Women and the Criminalisation of HIV Transmission: Law Reform Setbacks and Successes

Johanna Kehler (South Africa)
AIDS Legal Network

Questions and Answers

Closing Remarks

Law Reform in the Context of HIV: Are Human Rights Protected or Compromised? (.mp3)

This information was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view all of Kaiser's coverage of the XVIII International AIDS Conference at © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
More Info on Basic Legal Rights for HIV-Positive People

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