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[Dear subscribers, please find a contribution from guest moderator Vivek Divan to the ongoing UNDP e-discussion on taking recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law forward. The discussion runs for just one more week, so be sure to get your contributions in soon!] 

Opportunities and strategies to address challenges and to further advance the recommendations of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law

[Facilitator's note: Please find a message from Vivek Divan, guest moderator in phase two of phase 2 of the e-discussion on "The Global Commission on HIV and the Law – Taking the Commission's Recommendations Forward". We welcome your contributions which can be posted online here, or alternatively via email to hivlawdiscussion@unteamworks.org. Phase 2 of the e-discussion takes place from 15-31 July, but contributions to the first discussion phase are also still welcome. Kindly note that the discussion platform is publicly accessible. This e-discussion is organized by UNDP's HIV, Health and Development-Net and the Network for UNDP's Partnership with the Global Fund, and cross-posted on the UN Human Rights Policy Network – HuriTALK, DGP-Net, Gender-Net, the Asia Pacific Community of Practice on HIV, Gender and Human Rights (HIV-APCoP), the joint United Nations Initiative on Mobility and HIV/AIDS in South East Asia (JUNIMA), the UNICEF HIV/AIDS Community of Practice, the Interagency Task Team HIV and Young People Community of Practice and the Global Commission on HIV and the Law mailing list. Thank you.]

Dear all,

Although this e-discussion continues to receive insightful contributions to questions posed in phase 1 (i.e. actions taken at the country-level to follow-up on the findings and recommendations of the Commission or to promote an enabling legal environment for AIDS responses; and identifying the challenges in supporting implementation of the Commission's recommendations), this message shall summarise the contributions received thus far in phase 2.

The questions posed in the second phase of the discussion are:

3. What are examples of innovative or non-traditional partnerships that can be used to strategically advance human-rights based responses to HIV and to address some of the challenges that have been identified in the first phase of the discussion? How can partnerships be effectively initiated and comparative advantages of different actors leveraged, to support implementation of the Commission's recommendations?

4. In the context of an evolving development framework (post-2015), what are the opportunities and challenges for maintaining attention to rights-based approaches to HIV and health?

In response to Q.3 Meena Seshu, Director of Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM), an NGO based in Sangli, India described its work in relation to collectivisation and empowerment of sex workers through rights-based principles. Such work has led to better health outcomes through engagement with local government health facilities. SANGRAM is an umbrella organization that has collectivized female sex workers as VAMP, male and transgender sex workers as MUSKAN, and sex workers living with HIV as VAMP Plus.

VAMP emphasizes confidential voluntary HIV testing (as opposed to state-practiced mandatory testing) in order to create a positive non-stigmatising environment in which HIV testing takes place that is emulated in existing government health setups. When sex workers have expressed concerns around breakage of condoms, VAMP Plus has raised this issue with the local healthcare providers to ensure that quality control is enforced. As a support and information group for people living with HIV, VAMP Plus also advocates for obtaining HIV treatment for those reluctant to get it due to hostile stigmatising environments.

Miguel A Ramiro Avilés pointed out that innovative partnerships with higher learning institutions can reap benefits – legal clinic education on HIV, health and law can provide access to justice for people living with HIV and provides human rights education to budding lawyers.

In response to Q.4 Meena Seshu highlighted the crucial role of rights-based approaches in empowering the most marginalised in society, such as sex workers, and the benefits of such an approach to combating HIV and advancing social development at large. She pointed out that rights-based approaches based on collective action as advocated by SANGRAM promote self-respect and hope. This in turn helps women confront abuse from within the family and by state agencies, engage with community/ village councils and claim rights to property. This is also true in the sex workers context. Such empowerment among female sex workers has contributed to their fuller participation in social processes, including their ability to earn a livelihood and has reduced exposure to violence and HIV. Similar awareness is important in the context of other groups who are at heightened vulnerability to HIV, such as men who have sex with men. Laila Alberto Jose Sueye in Mozambique, shared that rights-based strategies such as prevention messages are not reaching key populations such as sex workers.

Miguel A Ramiro Avilés pointed out that access to antiretroviral treatment is affected by the current economic crisis. However, this should not be a reason to cut back on assuring people living with HIV with access to treatment. Instead, the economic crisis should be an opportunity to recommit to rights-based approaches to HIV. Indeed, this suggests that a future development framework should be characterised by a commitment to rights-based approaches that advance social development. The global effort to stem the spread of HIV provides several examples of how addressing structural inequalities and marginalisation is vital for an effective HIV response. Contributions to the e-discussion thus far suggest that recognition of and addressing such structural determinants is necessary if meaningful and robust social development is to be achieved in the future.

We encourage you to please provide further contributions to this important discussion that can guide readers in innovative partnerships to advance human rights frameworks in the HIV response and inform the evolution of future development strategies. To enable your participation, we are extending the discussion till the 31st of July.

We welcome your responses directly on the discussion platform (Teamworks users can log-in to make a contribution, others can sign up to join the discussion platform), or via email to hivlawdiscussion@unteamworks.org.

Best regards,

Vivek Divan


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