Ministers of Justice and judges from across West and Central Africa gathered on 6-8 February in Dakar, Senegal, for a high-level consultation on HIV, the law and human rights. The meeting aimed to increase the engagement of judicial officials in the HIV response at national levels.
Eighty percent of countries in West and Central Africa have laws that criminalize HIV transmission, same-sex relations or sex work. Across the region, people living with HIV experience widespread stigma and discrimination in access to employment, education, health and social services. In many countries, people living with HIV and key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure—including sex workers and men who have sex with men—have limited access to legal support when injustices are committed.
“Laws should work for the AIDS response, not against it—they should never obstruct the health or survival of any individual,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, in his opening remarks at the consultation. “We must truly address discrimination and injustice related to AIDS,” he added. Mr Sidibé urged justice ministers to base their laws on science and ensure that all people have equal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
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