Human Rights Violations Continue for People Living with HIV in Asia


Weak laws and giant gaps in protection against discrimination have left people living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific facing human rights violations. Because of fear of discrimination and stigma, many of those most vulnerable don’t access the legal protections available to them. A report released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) explores these issues in depth.

Countries in Asia and the Pacific, including China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Fiji, Mongolia, and more, have added laws meant to protect people living with HIV. However, the effectiveness of these laws is questionable. The UNDP report highlights specific gaps in these laws and law enforcement practices. One example given is that none of the countries in South Asia have national HIV laws, despite the fact that HIV bills have been in existence in Pakistan, Nepal, and India. This creates an unnecessary grey areas for HIV testing rights, informed consent rights, and confidentiality rights.

The UNDP report also looks at gaps between laws that exist and what actually takes place. many countries have laws in place to protect people living with HIV, but obstacles in gaining access to justice prevent these people from seeking legal help. Many of the findings in the report show that people living with HIV in socially marginalized communities lack the money or access to state justice systems to challenge large institutions in legal proceedings.

It’s not all bad news in the report, though. Some countries in the region have taken to using alternative legal approaches to seek justice and enforce rights. Viet Nam has taken advantage of mediation and negotiation to resolve discrimination cases, allowing both parties to avoid the costly fees of going to court. People living with HIV in Thailand have received a great deal of support from NGOs in fighting for better access to treatment.

It’s important to know where legal protections for those living with HIV around the globe stand. The only way we can collectively advocate for better treatment of people living with HIV is to educate ourselves and others about current gaps in the system. For more HIV advocacy resources, news, and advice, visit HIV Advocates online.

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