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AIDS and human rights: a new study sheds light on obstacles facing people with HIV/AIDS and their access to health care services and protection

The Ministry of Health released in a workshop held on Thursday, February 25, 2016, in Rabat, a study on the legal and regulatory framework and environment related to HIV/AIDS in Morocco.

The study was commissioned in an implementation of the National Strategy on AIDS and Human Rights, developed by the Ministry of Health, in partnership with the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), with the support of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS.

The study has set a number of objectives, among which: analyzing the impact of laws and their enforcement practices on the AIDS response, including access to HIV prevention, treatment and support and non-discrimination; studying the harmonization of legal texts related to HIV/AIDS with the international and regional norms and standards in this area; assessing the legal obstacles that limit people living with HIV’s access to public services; and developing recommendations and proposals to promote and strengthen AIDS favorable legislative environment.

One of the main recommendations of the study is the ratification of the Arab Convention on the Prevention of HIV/AIDS and the Protection of Rights of People Living with HIV (PLHIV). The study also recommends strengthening laws that prohibit discrimination against PLHIV and most-at-risk populations that are marginalized and criminalized.

The study shows that the fight against discrimination can offer opportunities for PLHIV to keep their jobs and keep taking care of their families. It can help reduce the obstacles that most-at-risk populations face when they want to benefit from health care and prevention services.

The study advocates for the reform of Law No. 1-73-282 on the criminalization of drug addiction and prevention against the use of drugs, in order to give addicts the right to be treated and receive appropriate health care services. It also recommends reforming the Family Code, to seize the opportunity of the Pre-marital medical test, which should not be only mandatory as an administrative formality, to inform couples and raise their awareness about sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

In terms of regulations, the study recommends the publication of circulars considering the denial of care as discrimination. Such initiatives must stress advocate for the protection of medical confidentiality, facilitate the work of stakeholders in the area of prevention among the most-at-risk populations, and help adapt sexuality education to age.

The study called for the strengthening of human rights programs in the initial training curricula of law enforcement officers. It also recommends human rights training programs and initiatives for health personnel to help them understand the links between human rights violations and access to services.