XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Using human rights to improve legal and regulatory frameworks for HIV/AIDS

Presented by Sofia Gruskin (United States).

S. Gruskin1, E. Kismodi2, A. Ahmed1, J. Cottingham3

1Program on International Health and Human Rights, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, United States, 2World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, Geneva, Switzerland, 3Independent Consultant, Geneva, Switzerland

Issues: Despite many countries having committed to promoting and protecting human rights, including through ratification of human rights instruments, most have not sufficiently addressed the legal barriers necessary to best address HIV/AIDS. Overcoming such barriers requires not only identification, but analysis and modification of laws with the ultimate aim of improving access to care, treatment, and prevention services. We have created and field tested a tool which can assist countries to identify legal, regulatory and policy barriers related to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care.
Description: The Tool is both an instrument and a process. It uses a data compilation instrument which brings together laws, policies, regulations and public health data from readily-available and reliable sources. Data is disaggregated to the extent possible by sex, ethnicity, age, educational and social status in order to assist in identifying vulnerable groups. The Tool has been field tested in Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mozambique. It can provide evidence of the added value of human rights to advance HIV efforts, with particular attention to sexual and reproductive health, by providing for the participation of various stakeholders, including vulnerable groups; calling attention to accountability and the legal obligations of duty bearers; and highlighting the need to address discrimination against vulnerable groups.
Lessons learned: Field tests confirm the Tool allows for identification of five key areas: 1) state obligations to promote and protect human rights; 2) discrepancies in HIV status and access to needed services for vulnerable groups; 3) cross-sectoral collaboration between government actors; 4) civil society participation; and 5) responsibilities of stakeholders to implement HIV-related human rights obligations.
Next steps: Future actions will focus on making the Tool available to a wider audience and using it with other methods to eliminate legal and policy barriers to realizing the right to health in the context of HIV.

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