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Excerpts from "HIV/AIDS and human rights: International guidelines" (UNHCHR/UNAIDS, 1998)

Guideline 7: Legal support services

32. States should implement and support legal support services that will educate people affected by HIV/AIDS about their rights, provide free legal services to enforce those rights, develop expertise on HIV-related legal issues and utilize means of protection in addition to the courts, such as offices of Ministries of Justice, ombudspersons, health complaint units and human rights commissions.

Guideline 8: Women, children and other vulnerable groups

38. States should, in collaboration with and through the community, promote a supportive and enabling environment for women, children and other vulnerable groups by addressing underlying prejudices and inequalities through community dialogue, specially designed social and health services and support to community groups.

(b) States should support the development of adequate, accessible and effective HIV-related prevention and care education, information and services by and for vulnerable communities and should actively involve such communities in the design and implementation of these programmes.

(c) States should support the establishment of national and local forums to examine the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on women. They should be multisectoral to include government, professional, religious and community representation and leadership and examine issues such as:

· The role of women at home and in public life;
· The sexual and reproductive rights of women and men, including women's ability to negotiate safer sex and make reproductive choices;
· Strategies for increasing educational and economic opportunities for women;
· Sensitizing service deliverers and improving health care and social support services for women;
· The impact of religious and cultural traditions on women.

(f) States should ensure that all women and girls of child-bearing age have access to accurate and comprehensive information and counselling on the prevention of HIV transmission and the risk of vertical transmission of HIV, as well as access to the available resources to minimize that risk, or to proceed with childbirth, if they so choose.

(g) States should ensure the access of children and adolescents to adequate health information and education, including information related to HIV/AIDS prevention and care, inside and outside school, which is tailored appropriately to age level and capacity and enables them to deal positively and responsibly with their sexuality. Such information should take into account the rights of the child to access to information, privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent and means of prevention, as well as the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents. Efforts to educate children about their rights should include the rights of persons, including children, living with HIV/AIDS.

(h) States should ensure that children and adolescents have adequate access to confidential sexual and reproductive health services, including HIV/AIDS information, counselling, testing and prevention measures such as condoms, and to social support services if affected by HIV/AIDS. The provision of these services to children/adolescents should reflect the appropriate balance between the rights of the child/adolescent to be involved in decision-making according to his or her evolving capabilities and the rights of duties of parents/guardians for the health and well-being of the child.

(i) States should ensure that persons employed to child-care agencies, including adoption and foster-care homes, receive training in the area of HIV-related children's issues in order to deal effectively with the special needs of HIV-affected children, including protection from mandatory testing, discrimination and abandonment.

(j) States should support the implementation of specially designed and targeted HIV prevention and care programmes for those who have less access to mainstream programmes due to language, poverty, social or legal or physical marginalization, e.g. minorities, migrants, indigenous peoples, refugees and internally displaced persons, people with disabilities, prisoners, sex workers, men having sex with men and injecting drug users.

Guideline 9: Changing discriminatory attitudes through education, training and the media

40. States should promote the wide and ongoing distribution of creative education, training and media programmes explicitly designed to change attitudes of discrimination and stigmatization associated with HIV/AIDS to understanding and acceptance.

(a) States should support appropriate entities, such as media groups, NGOs and networks of PLHAs, to devise and distribute programming to promote respect for the rights and dignity of PLHAs and members of vulnerable groups, using a broad range of media (film, theatre, television, radio, print, dramatic presentations, personal testimonies, Internet, pictures, bus posters). Such programming should not compound stereotypes about these groups but instead dispel myths and assumptions about them by depicting them as friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbours and partners. Reassurance concerning the modes of transmission of the virus and the safety of everyday social contact should be reinforced.

(b) States should encourage educational institutions (primary and secondary schools, universities and other technical or tertiary colleges, adult and continuing education) as well as trades unions and workplaces to include HIV/AIDS and human rights/non-discrimination issues in relevant curricula, such as human relationships, citizenship-social studies, legal studies, health care, law enforcement, family life and/or sex education, and welfare/counselling.

Guideline 11: State monitoring and enforcement of human rights

44.States should ensure monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to guarantee HIV-related human rights, inclduing those of people living with HIV/AIDS, their families and communities.

80. The key human rights principles which are essential to effective States responses to HIV/AIDS are to be found in existing international instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Regional instruments, namely the American Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights also enshrine State obligations application to HIV/AIDS. In addition, a number of conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Organization are particularly relevant to the problem of HIV/AIDS such as ILO instruments concerning discrimination in employment and occupation, termination of employment, protection of workers' privacy and safety and health at work. Among the human rights principles relevant to HIV/AIDS are, inter alia:

· The right to non-discrimination, equal protection and equality before the law;
· The right to life;
· The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
· The right to liberty and security of person;
· The right to freedom of movement;
· The right to seek and enjoy asylum;
· The right to privacy;
· The right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freely receive and impart information;
· The right to freedom of association;
· The right to work;
· The right to marry and to found a family;
· The right to equal access to education;
· The right to an adequate standard of living;
· The right to social security, assistance and welfare;
· The right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits;
· The right to participate in public and cultural life;
· The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
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