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Advocating Prevention Over Punishment: The Risks of HIV Criminalization in Burkina Faso

Posted: 4 Feb 2010  

Patrice Sanon IV

Health and Developpement Law Organisation

Simon Kaboré

Réseau Accès aux Médicaments Essentiels (RAME), Ouagadougou

Jennifer Wilen

International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC), New York

Susanna J. Smith

International Women's Health Coalition, New York

Jane Galvão

International Women's Health Coalition, New York

Date Written: November 1, 2009

Abstract

In 2004, parliamentarians from 12 countries in West and Central Africa created a template for legislation aimed at protecting the rights of people with HIV and stemming rising HIV infection rates by criminalizing HIV transmission. Since then, the template has been adopted as national law in 15 African countries, including Burkina Faso in 2008. The Burkina Faso law offers a number of protections for people with HIV, such as confidentiality of HIV test results, and holds the government accountable for providing health services for people with HIV and education about HIV in schools. However, other articles in the law, which criminalize HIV transmission and mandate disclosure of HIV status, may contribute to violations of the human rights of women and men with HIV. This article reviews the two cases brought in Burkina Faso under the 2008 HIV law to date, both against women, and explores the implications of specific elements of the legislation. It recommends that Burkina Faso use guidance provided by UNAIDS and the Southern Africa Development Community to repeal harmful articles in the HIV-specific legislation and implement the positive provisions. Prioritizing HIV prevention over punishment is the best way to respect the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, criminalization, mandatory disclosure, human rights, women’s rights, Burkina Faso

Suggested Citation

Sanon, Patrice and Kaboré, Simon and Wilen, Jennifer and Smith, Susanna J. and Galvão, Jane, Advocating Prevention Over Punishment: The Risks of HIV Criminalization in Burkina Faso (November 1, 2009). Reproductive Health Matters, Vol. 17, No. 34, pp. 146-153, November 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1543806

Patrice Sanon IV

Health and Developpement Law Organisation ( email )

+226 70454160
+226 76687998
Ouagadougou
Burkina Faso

Simon Kaboré

Réseau Accès aux Médicaments Essentiels (RAME), Ouagadougou ( email )

Ouagadougou
Burkina Faso

Jennifer Wilen (Contact Author)

International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC), New York ( email )

New York
United States

Susanna J. Smith

International Women's Health Coalition, New York ( email )

New York
United States

Jane Galvão

International Women's Health Coalition, New York ( email )

New York
United States

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