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Overview

Soon after the report's launch in July, 2012, the HIV, Health and Development (HHD) Practice of UNDP Regional Service Centres (RSCs) in Africa started to work together with the African Union Commission, with regional economic communities, regional civil society organisations and with national bodies to plan and implement follow up activities based on the recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law (GCHL).[1]

In October 2012, UNDP convened a Regional Meeting on "Conducting Country-level Legal Environment Assessments and National Dialogues on HIV and the Law in Africa". Held on 24-25 October 2012 in Johannesburg (South Africa), this meeting was attended by government and civil society representatives from 15 countries across Africa. UNDP partners, other UN agencies, the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the East African Community (EAC) also participated. At the close of the meeting, a number of African countries made plans for conducting legal environment assessments and national dialogues on HIV and the Law. These activities aimed to begin a process of review and reform of relevant law, policy and/or practices that adversely affect access to HIV treatment, care and support for all – including people living with HIV, women and girls affected by HIV and key populations (men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who sell sex and people who inject drugs).[2]

Based on these initial discussions, UNDP and partners, with support from the governments of both Sweden and Norway, have initiated a 3-year plan (2013-2015) that would assist at least 15 countries in Africa to strengthen their national and regional legal environments and help in strengthening access to HIV, health and social services.

Currently, support is provided to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. In these countries the national Government, Statutory Bodies, Civil Society and Key Population Organisations, are utilising the UNDP support for reviewing HIV-related laws and policies and practices that are discriminatory, criminalise or otherwise marginalise people with HIV or those most affected by HIV; identifying law enforcement practices that stigmatise and/or harass people with HIV and those most affected by HIV; and exploring the challenge of accessing justice and other services by people with HIV, women and girls and those most affected by HIV including key population groups. In addition in many countries plans and preparations are underway to conduct national level dialogues on HIV and the law, with UNDP and partners supporting governments to take forward recommendations that emerge out of these engagements.

During the course of these interventions, and with inputs from partners, UNDP is developing guidance material, building capacity of a range of national and regional players including national/regional key population organisations, and supporting the regional economic communities – SADC, EAC, ECCAS, WAHO and ECOWAS[3] – and the African Union Commission to strengthen regional and continent-wide responses based on the recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.

 

[1] Global Commission on HIV and the Law. July, 2012. "Risks, Rights & Health". UNDP HIV/AIDS Group. Accessed online 13 May 2013: http://hivlawcommission.org/resources/report/FinalReport-Risks,Rights&Health-EN.pdf.

[2] UNAIDS Terminology Guidelines. October, 2011. "The term 'key populations' or 'key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure' refers to those most likely to be exposed to HIV or to transmit it – their engagement is critical to a successful HIV response i.e. they are key to the epidemic and key to the response. In all countries, key populations include people living with HIV. In most settings, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, people who inject drugs, sex workers and their clients, and seronegative partners in serodiscordant couples are at higher risk of HIV exposure to HIV than other people." Definition accessed online 13 May 2013: http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/unaidspublication/2011/JC2118_terminology-guidelines_en.pdf

[3] SADC: Southern African Development Community; EAC: Eastern African Community; ECCAS: Economic Community of Central African States; WAHO: West African Health Organisation; ECOWAS: Economic Community of West African States.