IPS Examines Legislative Measures To Fight HIV/AIDS

Inter Press Service examines several civil society organizations’ argument that legislative measures aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS, “hurt more” than they “help.” There are 58 countries with laws in place to “prosecute HIV transmission” and 33 others where such legislation is being considered, according to the International Planned Parenthood Federation. 

Jennifer Gatsi Mallet, who coordinates Namibia’s branch of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, said, “The criminalisation of HIV will be yet another reason why people will stay away from testing facilities and clinics.” According to Johanna Kehler, director of the AIDS Legal Network, if people don’t get tested, “they are more likely to spread the disease unknowingly, and will not have access to antiretrovirals that may help to prolong their lives.”

Laws can also have a negative effect on women, according to IPS. Kehler said, “Women will be the first ones in line to be prosecuted, as they are more likely to know their status compared to men, simply because they visit clinics more often, for instance during and after their pregnancy.”

IPS writes, “In countries like Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Niger, a mother can be criminally charged if she does not take steps to prevent HIV transmission to baby, including taking antiretrovirals during the pregnancy” (Mannak, 7/30).  

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