n African Human Rights Law Journal - HIV-specific legislation in sub-Saharan Africa : a comprehensive human rights analysis




As at 31 July 2014, 27 sub-Saharan African countries had adopted HIV-specific legislation to address the legal issues raised by the HIV and AIDS epidemics. The article provides the first comprehensive analysis of key provisions in these HIV-specific laws. It shows that HIV-specific laws include both protective and punitive provisions. Protective provisions often covered in these laws relate to non-discrimination in general or in specific areas, such as employment, health, housing and insurance. However, these non-discrimination provisions are often not strong enough to fully protect the human rights of people living with HIV and those affected by the epidemic. Punitive or restrictive provisions appear to be a defining feature of HIV-specific laws, both in terms of the number of countries that have adopted them and with regard to the diversity of restrictive provisions provided in these laws. Restrictive provisions often covered in HIV-specific laws include compulsory HIV testing, particularly for alleged sexual offenders, involuntary partner notification and criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission. In the great majority of cases, these provisions are overly broad, they disregard best available recommendations for legislating on HIV, fail to pass the human rights test of necessity, proportionality and reasonableness, consecrate myths and prejudice about people living with HIV, and risk undermining effective responses to the HIV epidemic. While noting these gaps and concerns in HIV-specific laws, the article calls for ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of their protective provisions, while devising strategies to address their restrictive stipulations.


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