|Handbook for Legislators on HIV/AIDS, Law and Human Rights - Action to Combat HIV/AIDS in view of its Devastating Human, Economic and Social Impact (UNAIDS, 1999, 152 p.)|
The aim of this Handbook has been to assist legislators to integrate HIV/AIDS and human rights into their parliamentary mandates by providing information on the links between these two areas in a practical way. This should enable implementation of the IPU Resolution and the International Guidelines at national level, where laws and budgets are debated and drafted. The role of the IPU in this partnership with UNAIDS has been critical, and will continue to be so in promoting the use of this Handbook.
Without a rights-based response the impact of and vulnerability to infection will increase, and the community's ability to respond will be hampered. As often high-lighted by the late Jonathan Mann, the protection of the uninfected majority is inextricably bound to upholding the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.
The existing human rights framework contains binding and international agreed norms that are comprehensive and coherent, as well as institutions to promote accountability. It provides a solid and powerful basis for measuring whether responses have been effective in reducing the vulnerability of disempowered and stigmatized populations. For example, it can measure whether these groups are being reached by targeted prevention information and education, and the impact on those already infected or affected.
The controversial and complex issues raised by HIV/AIDS may have differing relevance in diverse countries. National and community consultative processes are necessary to achieve a workable consensus, in order to assess priority areas requiring action. Issues of public health should not be clouded with morality.
Lacks of political commitment, denial and disengagement with affected communities have been features of inadequate responses to the epidemic in some countries. Without the intensive and long-term involvement of parliamentarians who can make a difference the epidemic will continue to grow unabated. Already the number of people infected with HIV has exceeded 33 million - the question is how many more lives are needed for AIDS to be treated urgently and efficiently in expanded responses by governments?