Greece Reinstates Law that Violates Human Rights of PLHIV

A draconian Greek law violating the rights of its population has been reinstated under its new Health Minister Adonis Georgiadus.

The law was scrapped in May 2012 under national and international pressure, but was revived in June 26th this year. Health Regulation 39A allows police to force those suspected of being HIV positive to undergo mandatory HIV testing. Human rights activists and groups are up in arms over the reinstatement, arguing that it unfairly cracks down on sex workers, drug users and undocumented migrants. Furthermore, the law in effect has led to reports of People living with HIV (PLHIV) being subjected to enforced isolation, home eviction and having their names published to the wider public.

Early treatment and diagnosis is obviously important; however mandatory HIV testing can produce negative health outcomes, such as mistrust of the health system, fear, stress and anxiety, failures in treatment and thus viral suppression.

The Greek government has implemented this policy due to its concern over a sharp rise in HIV cases. 2011 saw a 200% increase in HIV amongst youth. However it has slashed its HIV prevention budgets from 35 million euros in 2010 to 20 million last year. This is antithetical to reducing HIV prevalence in population, and this new law means that more money is being funneled into punitive measures, rather than being used to invest in HIV prevention, testing, care and support services. Education campaigns and sensitizing people to HIV have proven time and again to be the most effective and intuitive prevention strategies.

International organizations have widely condemned the Greek policy, including UNAIDS, the World Health Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “The Greek Health Minister is clearly violating basic human rights and human dignity under the guise of ‘protecting the community from contagious diseases,’” Doctors of the World, a non-profit, said in a statement reacting to the news.

It is important to keep this issue in the spotlight. It is by sharing this news that the movement to repeal this draconian law can be energized and amplified. Like and share if you agree.

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