XVIII International AIDS Conference

Abstract

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Creating an enabling environment for universal access to care, treatment and support through regional model policies, guidelines and legislation on HIV related discrimination in the Caribbean

F.A. Hypolite1, V. Cenac2

1CARICOM Secretariat/Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV & AIDS, PANCAP Coordinating Unit, Greater Georgetown, Guyana, 2AIDS Action Foundation, Saint Lucia, Castries, Saint Lucia

Issues: In the Caribbean people living with HIV and vulnerable communities face discrimination in many spheres of life including employment, education, access to health care, physical violence and harassment in their homes and communities. Many are without access to justice or other mechanisms for redress. Previous regional efforts to record and address incidents of HIV related discrimination through anti-discrimination recourse mechanisms such as Human Rights desks have achieved limited success due to inadequate or weak legislative and human rights frameworks.
Description: The PANCAP Law, Ethics and Human Rights project, sought to build a regional response by first; examining the legislative frameworks for the protection of the rights of people living with HIV and developing a cadre of sensitized legal, medical and psychosocial practitioners. In its continued efforts to protect and promote the rights of people living with HIV and vulnerable communities, PANCAP with funding through the World Bank will develop regional model policies and draft legislation to address HIV related discrimination by June 2010.
Lessons learned: In the absence of a supportive policy and legislative environment, newly sensitized practitioners and their clients do not have an effective system for redress. Legislative reform must also be accompanied by efforts to sensitise the political directorate, to mobilize the legal fraternity including law students and address the restrictive costs of litigation. Test cases are critical to examine the protective capacity of current legislation and that of any new legislation.
Next steps: Legal practitioners already sensitised and engaged in the regional response to HIV should advocate for the adoption of the regional model at country level. Academics as well as political leaders should continue to be engaged in the sensitization of their constituents in support of the regional model and resulting national level legislation.


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