Civil Society In Southern Africa Condemns Criminalization of HIV

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In South Africa, civil society organizations are found to be working on human rights and HIV. Recently, they condemn the enactment of brutal laws that often include provisions, which criminalize HIV transmission, exposure, and non-disclosure. Last month, the organization delivered a statement before the African Commission on Human Rights in Gambia at 61st Ordinary Session. Some of these laws are often offered for compulsory HIV testing, automatic partner notification, and the disclosure of HIV status. Michaela Clayton, the Director of AIDS & Rights Alliance for South Africa, said these provisions will be overly broad and even, disregarded the best available evidence related to science. It is failed to pass the human rights with the test of necessity, reasonableness, and proportionality.

HIV SA

Enacting HIV-Specific Criminal Cases:

In addition, he said that they have the impact of exacerbating stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against individuals living with HIV. Rather, these measures will undermine both the public health response effectively to the epidemic HIV and the human rights of individuals living with HIV. Even though there were no criminal laws found particularly for HIV since the 21st century in South Africa, around 31 countries have enacted the vague or overly broad HIV-specific criminal statutes. Among other things, these laws & policies offer for the criminalization of disease transmission, non-disclosure, and exposure though there will be existing penal provision that could be raised in those rare instances of intentional HIV transmission.

Laws And Policies Violating Rights Of People With HIV:

A considerable amount of prosecutions is continued to increase at a rapid rate in the countries where criminal laws related to HIV have been promulgating. Till date, prosecutions had been documented in nearly 16 countries. Meanwhile, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, the executive director of South Africa litigation center, said that they are really felt regarding the current progress in HIV response in South Africa being susceptible by the countries through the improper use of criminal sanctions. When the argument gets raised regarding the control of spreading HIV epidemic, Keogh said that these laws, policies, as well as practices,  will violate the rights of individuals living with HIV. Almost all healthcare users should inform consent, dignity, bodily integrity, freedom from inhuman, fair trial rights, and degrading treatment.

How To Protect Rights Of People Affected By HIV:

Women who are living with HIV may face surveillance and in turn, state control about their reproduction, childbirth, family planning, child-raising and child feeding choices. In most of the contexts, criminalization laws, policies & practices about HIV have an unbalanced punitive effect on the women. Additionally, he gave the example of women living with HIV in Malawi and was also prosecuted for breastfeeding. Also, there are numerous examples of prosecutions of individuals living with HIV in Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria especially women. In the patriarchal societies, women already unevenly face the burden of HIV epidemic because of their incapability of negotiating protective sexual intercourse in the relationship. To protect the rights of people affected by or living with HIV including women, encourage and remind member states regarding their obligations under the Maputo Protocol and the African Charter, including resolutions being adopted by the commission.

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