WAD 2017 Statement:HIV Law Modernization and directed approach

HIV is still an epidemic of our time (aidsinfo.info.org). Upwards of 1 million people per year die from AIDS-related deaths, the bulk of which are in Africa (specifically Sub Saharan Africa) with Uganda as one of the countries with an increasing epidemic. 

Enhanced survival is possible. Quality life is possible too. But, these two are possible in a milieu of social, economical and political contexts that provide advantages to marginalized and in this case those at the extreme who are People Living With HIV. 

In commemorating the World AIDS Day, 2017, MARPS in Uganda would want to draw attention to HIV-related Criminalization. Criminalization revolves around the elements of opportunity, e.g., whether or not consenting people are aware of the penal code on sexual relation, sexuality and HIV transmission;  motive, e.g., whether consent is sought and skills to negotiate safer sex are known;  and voluntary action, e.g., whether there is culpable evidence of voluntary transmission. 

In the case of HIV, spread by unprotected sex or neglect in taking containment precautions by professionals lead to culpability. We propose that the name HIV criminalization should instead be  specific and instead become HIV voluntary transmission law. This naming draws attention to human conduct as opposed to stigmatizing HIV+ve diagnosis. It is specific and makes it easier to provide information, education and communication geared at making communities participate in promoting prevention and responsible citizenship. 

HIV Law Modernization and directed approach are two  take back home methodologies we posit. For this year's celebrations, the UNAIDS launched a campaign called 'My Health, My Right.' Attention is drawn to the fact  that ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic should engender dignity  for humans and respect for human rights and freedoms. This means unconditional regard for persons living with HIV and access to ART. 

According to studies, this means more attention needs to be directed to targeted approach saturating certain key populations, such as inmates, female sex workers, Sexual Minorities, IDUs, mobile people with money, young women and men in highly endemic areas. 

A more immediate impact of both test and treat strategies may be to concentrate the program and resources on key populations compared with a traditional mass scale-up on a population  basis. OR BOTH! 

HIV Law Modernization and directed approach have immediate effects which include: reduced costs of treatment, testing and reductions in HIV because a positive diagnosis will mean earlier initiation of ART and adherence. In turn this has advantages including, almost non existent drug resistance and the virus will be reduced to undetectable levels.


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