Greater involvement of people living with HIV (GIPA)
While it is generally accepted the world over that there must be a twin strategy for combating HIV/AIDS — prevention and treatment — the Indian government has focused largely on prevention, with far less emphasis on treatment. Furthermore, people living with HIV/AIDS are stigmatized and face significant discrimination. In this context, the HIV/AIDS and the Law Initiative at HRLN uses a rights-based approach to support people affected by HIV against all forms of discrimination by defending their fundamental human rights including their right to life, health, privacy, education, employment, housing, and other matters.
What HRLN DoesThe HIV/AIDS and the Law initiative was established to create mechanisms to provide critical legal assistance to HIV-affected persons and empower them to combat stigma and discrimination. We do this by training and empowering stakeholders and community leaders to identify and resolve legal problems, setting up and running HIV legal aid centers, and providing free legal aid to those affected by HIV/AIDS. The Initiative focuses particularly on providing support to vulnerable and marginalized communities such as women, children, transgenders, commercial sex workers, prisoners, men who have sex with men (MSM), and intravenous drug users (IDUs), amongst others.
To facilitate easy and increased access to the justice system for HIV-positive people, we have established a pan–India network of HIV/AIDS Legal Aid Centres, wherein our lawyers partner with Positive Network Groups to provide legal aid. Thus far, over 25 such centers have been set up in collaboration with positive network, NGOs, SHGs, etc. These centers are in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Kerala, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
· Education, medical, and employment discrimination
· Family discrimination
· Property rights
· Gender discrimination
· Adoption and guardianship
The Initiative’s two-day National Judicial Colloquium on HIV/AIDS and the Law in 2007 brought together over 50 judges from the various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India, along with eminent speakers from South Africa as well as the Indian Parliament. Partnered by UNAIDS, the colloquium provided the space for an intense discussion on many legal and social issues surrounding HIV and or AIDS. A major publication, the first of its kind in India – HIV/AIDS and the Law, volumes I & II — produced by its team contains case laws on HIV and legal issues. It has served as a ready reference for Judges at all levels as well as for lawyers and members of the affected communities to access information on case laws and judgments. The initiative has also published books on the struggle for treatment, the ethics of mandatory HIV testing, and produced a documentary film on HIV and rights titled “I want to Live” that has been screened in India and major international festivals in Canada, Germany and the UK.
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