|Second International Consultation on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights: Report of the Secretary-General (UNAIDS, 1996, 110 p.)|
10. HIV/AIDS continues to spread throughout the world at an alarming rate. Close in the wake of the epidemic is the widespread abuse of human rights and fundamental freedoms associated with HIV/AIDS in all parts of the world. In response to this situation the experts at the Second International Consultation on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights concluded the following:
a. The protection of human rights is essential to safeguard human dignity in the context of HIV/AIDS and to ensure an effective, rights-based response to HIV/AIDS. An effective response requires the implementation of all human rights, civil and political, economic, social and cultural, and fundamental freedoms of all people, in accordance with existing international human rights standards;
b. Public health interests do not conflict with human rights. On the contrary, it has been recognized that when human rights are protected, less people become infected and those living with HIV/AIDS and their families can better cope with HIV/AIDS;
c. A rights-based, effective response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic involves establishing appropriate governmental institutional responsibilities, implementing law reform and support services and promoting a supportive environment for groups vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and for those living with HIV/AIDS;
d. In the context of HIV/AIDS, international human rights norms and pragmatic public health goals require States to consider measures that may be considered controversial, particularly regarding the status of women and children, sex workers, injecting drug users and men having sex with men. It is, however, the responsibility of all States to identify how they can best meet their human rights obligations and protect public health within their specific political, cultural and religious contexts;
e. Although States have primary responsibility for implementing strategies that protect human rights and public health, United Nations bodies, agencies and programmes, regional intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental organizations, including networks of people living with HIV/AIDS, play critical roles in this regard.
11. The Consultation adopted Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, the purpose of which is to translate international human rights norms into practical observance in the context of HIV/AIDS. To this end, the Guidelines, as annexed to the present report, consist of two parts: first, the human rights principles underlying a positive response to HIV/AIDS and second, action-oriented measures to be employed by Governments in the areas of law, administrative policy and practice that will protect human rights and achieve HIV-related public health goals.
12. There are many steps that States can take to protect HIV-related human rights and to achieve public health goals. The 12 Guidelines elaborated by the Consultation for States to implement an effective, rights-based response are summarized below.
States should establish an effective national framework for their response to HIV/AIDS which ensures a coordinated, participatory, transparent and accountable approach, integrating HIV/AIDS policy and programme responsibilities across all branches of Government.
States should ensure, through political and financial support, that community consultation occurs in all phases of HIV/AIDS policy design, programme implementation and evaluation and that community organizations are enabled to carry out their activities, including in the field of ethics, law and human rights, effectively.
States should review and reform public health laws to ensure that they adequately address public health issues raised by HIV/AIDS, that their provisions applicable to casually transmitted diseases are not inappropriately applied to HIV/AIDS and that they are consistent with international human rights obligations.
States should review and reform criminal laws and correctional systems to ensure that they are consistent with international human rights obligations and are not misused in the context of HIV/AIDS or targeted against vulnerable groups.
States should enact or strengthen anti-discrimination and other protective laws that protect vulnerable groups, people living with HIV/AIDS and people with disabilities from discrimination in both the public and private sectors, ensure privacy and confidentiality and ethics in research involving human subjects, emphasize education and conciliation, and provide for speedy and effective administrative and civil remedies.
States should enact legislation to provide for the regulation of HIV-related goods, services and information, so as to ensure widespread availability of qualitative prevention measures and services, adequate HIV prevention and care information and safe and effective medication at an affordable price.
States should implement and support legal support services that will educate people affected by HIV/AIDS about their rights, provide free legal services to enforce those rights, develop expertise on HIV-related legal issues and utilize means of protection in addition to the courts, such as offices of ministries of justice, ombudspersons, health complaint units and human rights commissions.
States, in collaboration with and through the community, should promote a supportive and enabling environment for women, children and other vulnerable groups by addressing underlying prejudices and inequalities through community dialogue, specially designed social and health services and support to community groups.
States should promote the wide and ongoing distribution of creative education, training and media programmes explicitly designed to change attitudes of discrimination and stigmatization associated with HIV/AIDS to understanding and acceptance.
States should ensure that government and private sectors develop codes of conduct regarding HIV/AIDS issues that translate human rights principles into codes of professional responsibility and practice, with accompanying mechanisms to implement and enforce these codes.
States should ensure monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to guarantee the protection of HIV-related human rights, including those of people living with HIV/AIDS, their families and communities.
States should cooperate through all relevant programmes and agencies of the United Nations system, including UNAIDS, to share knowledge and experience concerning HIV-related human rights issues and should ensure effective mechanisms to protect human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS at international level.