A coterie of SADC-PF parliamentarians who were gathered in South Africa recently concluded that by criminalising issues like HIV and AIDS the bloc was setting itself up for failure as such issues drive people underground; far from public health care.
The forum brought together political authorities from the SADC region, including human rights practitioners, development partners, media other stakeholders.
The 90:90:90 is an ambitious UNAIDS goal that; by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; by 2020, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and by 2020, 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
The forum held under the theme “Capacity Strengthening on Criminalisation and Stigmatisation: Disincentives to the Realisation of Fundamental Human Rights and Public Health” discussed measures that could be taken as part of the agenda to accelerate achievement of 90:90: 90 goals.
A representative from the UNAIDS Human Rights, Patrick Eba, criticised the current laws in the bloc saying they are regressive. He cited the example of prosecutions for biting or spitting, criminilisation of non-disclosure in absence of actual exposure or transmission and prosecutions in spite of condom use or low viral load.
Eba also said HIV criminalisation makes it difficult for those at risk of HIV to access testing and prevention, adding that it reverses gains already made in vanquishing AIDS by 2030.
The media was also encouraged to promote value addition for ongoing capacity development efforts on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and human rights.