Strengthening and expanding HIV-related legal services and rights in Latin America
Presented by Sara Nardicchia (Italy).
J.J. Hernández-Chávez1, S. Nardicchia2, O. Perez2, D. Patterson2
1Colectivo Sol A.C., Mexico City, Mexico, 2International Development Law Organization, HIV and Health Law Program, Rome, Italy
Issues: In 2008 UNAIDS estimated that 2 million people were living with HIV in Latin America. Although described as a concentrated epidemic in most countries, HIV is also growing among women, indigenous populations, mobile populations and prisoners. Prevention efforts have been hindered by insufficient attention to human rights and sexual health, and by inadequate monitoring and evaluation.
Description: In early 2010, 30 legal and community activists from around Latin America convened in Mexico City to identify: i) emerging challenges and opportunities in using the law and legal mechanisms to address discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV, and key populations; ii) opportunities for greater regional networking and advocacy, and; iii) opportunities for advocacy at global and regional levels to influence key stakeholders to strengthen the enabling legal and policy environment for the response to HIV and AIDS. The meeting resulted in recommendations and elements of an action plan to address these challenges and opportunities.
Lessons learned: Capacity building and support for legal services are essential for legal action to address human rights violations. By addressing discrimination and empowering communities, expanded legal services will also increase access to prevention, treatment, care and support services. Case data collected and analyzed will support evidence-based reforms. Several countries have well-functioning HIV legal services. These need to be documented, evaluated and adapted for scale up.
Next steps: A work plan to strengthen and expand HIV-related legal services in the region will be developed, with links made to law reform and advocacy agendas, building on international law and best practices. Regional and inter-regional networking will share experiences and strategies for capacity building and advocacy, using electronic media such as AIDSLEX and other forums.
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