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Political Declaration Target 8 - HIV-Related Stigma
Eliminate HIV-related stigma, discrimination, punitive laws and practices
Stigma and discrimination still form major obstacles to an effective HIV response. People living with HIV may encounter employment discrimination along with the denial of family planning, dental and health services. The prevalence of stigma may result in late HIV testing, non-disclosure and a lack of engagement with HIV services in general. The profound emotional and psychological costs associated with stigma cannot be underestimated, and nor can their ability to undermine an effective HIV response.
In 2012, 61 percent of countries reported the existence of anti-discrimination laws. There has also been a 10 percent increase in the number of countries with HIV-related legal services, an 11 percent increase in the number who have trained judges and magistrates in HIV discrimination, and a 13 percent increase in the number with free or reduced cost legal services.
However, in 17 of 23 countries where Stigma Index research was conducted, less than 30 percent of people living with HIV who had experienced rights violations sought legal redress. 63 countries continue to have HIV-specific provisions that allow prosecution on the basis of non-disclosure, exposure or transmission. Human rights violations and acts of discrimination are often based on hysteria or paranoia, rather than fact – prosecutions have neven been reported against people living with HIV who use condoms during sexual activity.
76 of 193 reporting countries criminalise same-sex relations – some still use the death penalty. Harsh penalties for drug use, such as compulsory detention and bans on opioid substitution therapy or needle and syringe programmes, are still in evidence. Most countries also continue to criminalise some aspects of sex work, making sex workers vulnerable to police harassment or mistreatment.
What still needs to be done?
- Increase the number of anti-stigma programmes, and divert resources to them, in order to reduce social isolation and improve treatment adherence.
- Intensify efforts to reduce stigma in current health care systems, particularly regarding the views of some health workers.
- Increase investment in human rights programmes. 54 percent of countries reporting HIV spending didn’t invest in human rights promotion, and those that did spent minimal amounts. More investment is also needed in creating anti-discrimination laws, and increasing support for legal services.
- Develop HIV and AIDS education in order to raise awareness of stigma and discrimination, and to help erase irrational fears and moral judgements.
- Remove punitive laws against key populations. In every country, all branches of government, legislature and judiciary should be engaged with this effort and actively informed and educated about human rights in the context of HIV.
- 103 of 109 have identified eliminating stigma as national priority – 99 of these countries have integrated this priority into their national HIV strategic plans.
- 62 percent of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, and 50 percent of countries in Asia and the Pacific, are not currently on track to eliminate stigma and discrimination.