A Global Assessment of the Role of Law in the HIV/AIDS Pandemic
Public Health, Vol. 123, pp. 260-264, 2009
7 Pages Posted: 21 May 2009 Last revised: 1 Dec 2013
Date Written: May 18, 2009
This article examines the dynamic role of law as a tool, and potential barrier, to public health interventions designed to ameliorate the negative impacts of human immunodeﬁciency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeﬁciency syndrome (AIDS) globally. Law impacts the lives of persons living with (and at risk of) HIV/AIDS in many ways. Laws may:
(1) help to ensure that public health authorities are empowered to provide effective prevention and treatment programmes; (2) effectuate the human rights to life, health, work, education and property ownership of persons living with, or at risk of, HIV/AIDS; and (3) protect persons living with HIV/AIDS from social risks, stigma and other harms by respecting privacy and prohibiting unwarranted discrimination. However, laws can also create legal barriers in many countries that impede effective HIV/AIDS interventions by penalizing those with HIV/AIDS through criminal sanctions or other policies. As a result, it is recommended globally that laws should facilitate the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS consistent with scientiﬁc and public health practices and with a human rights framework. Effective use of existing laws that promote the public’s health, and reforms of laws which impede it, contribute to improved individual and communal health outcomes concerning HIV/AIDS.
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By Lance Gable