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High-level commission finds an epidemic of bad laws is stifling the global AIDS response
Date:7/9/2012

and drug use, which will allow vulnerable populations access to HIV services.

"Women are half the world's population and young people are our future," said Nevena Ciric, a Serbian woman living with HIV. "Countries must enact laws that prevent violence against women and girls, as well as ensuring that laws support the provision of comprehensive sexual health education and services to young people."

The global community has a critical role to play. Global leaders, civil society groups and the United Nations must hold governments accountable to the highest standards of international law, public health and universal human rights, and advocate for policies and practices based on human rights and public health evidence.

"Governments across the world have a responsibility to take bold action and repeal laws that stem from ignorance and intolerance," said Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican lawyer and legal advisor for AIDS-Free World. "In Jamaica, where HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is among the highest in the world, anti-sodomy law breeds fear and violence and drives these men away from the care and treatment they need."

Governments must follow the leadership of countries that have enacted laws that help advance effective HIV responses. For example, African and Caribbean countries that do not criminalise same-sex sexual activity have lower HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men. Countries that treat injecting drug users as patients instead of criminalsincluding New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Switzerland and Portugal have increased access to HIV services and reduced HIV transmission rates among people who use drugs.

"We must ensure that new interventions to prevent and treat HIV reach the people who need them most," said former President of the Republic of Botswana Festus Mogae, a member of the Commission. "Laws that prohibit discrimination and violence and protect at-risk populations are a powerful, low
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Contact: Benjamin Humphrey
bhumphrey@globalhealthstrategies.com
212-929-7888 x24
Global Commission on HIV and the Law
Source:Eurekalert

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