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Health News of Friday, 29 July 2011

Source: GNA

Law on HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination advocated

Takoradi, July 29, GNA 97 Participants at a day's HIV workshop on Thursday in Takoradi have called for specific legislation on HIV/AIDS to protect HIV victims from stigmatization and discrimination. They said all fragmented laws on HIV and AIDS should be codified in a single document to serve as a reference document. The participants, who were drawn from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Attorney General's Department, Ghana Health Service, the media, civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations, noted that the passage of the law would adequately protect persons living with HIV and AIDS.

They said it would also prevent judges or jury from passing judgment against persons, who had ill-treated HIV victims based on their conservative thoughts and interpretation of old-fashioned laws on HIV.

The workshop was one of the steps adopted by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana to gather inputs into a draft document on the HIV and AIDs legislation to make it holistic and better document.

The Programme Officer for CDD-Ghana, Ms Regina Amanfo, explained that the absence of a specific legislation to provide clear, substantive rights and protection for people living with HIV/AIDS had worsened stigmatization and discrimination. She said a comprehensive document on HIV and AIDS, would outlaw all forms of stigmatization and discrimination against HIV/AIDS victims, 93similar to what we have for domestic violence, disability as well as children and child-labour issues. "Such a law can be a much better advocacy tool for the rights of people living with the HIV/AIDS, and also be a much better enforcement tool as well", she added.

Ms Amanfo indicated that as part of the CDD-Ghana's human rights promotion and protection agenda, it had embarked on a two-year project to reduce stigmatization and discrimination against Most at Risk Population (MARPs) and Persons Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV). The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), funded this project to advance the adoption of rights based approach to address stigmatization; to improve HIV prevention and treatment services and to expand the knowledge of institutions in the criminal justice system. "It is also intended to improve access to social services including health services for all vulnerable groups in the society, Ms Amanfo added.

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