In sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women aged 15 – 19 years account for 74 percent of new HIV infections.
IDLO's work includes strengthening the legal response to HIV and AIDS in developing nations; fostering awareness of public health goals and human rights among government officials, and among those communities most at risk of HIV infection; and building lawmakers' capacity for reform based on evidence, international law and best practice.
We also work with United Nations agencies to scale up joint efforts towards zero HIV discrimination. Developed in partnership with UNAIDS and UNDP, our Scaling up HIV-Related Legal Services toolkit has been distributed in six languages (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian). Separately, we have launched multilingual e-learning courses on HIV Law and Policy.
As part of IDLO’s continuous commitment to accountability and results-based management, IDLO is pleased to share this Evaluation Brief for the project, "Integrating Legal Empowerment and Social Accountability for Quality HIV Health Services for Adolescent Girls and Young Women". The evaluation has been conducted by independent evaluation experts, supervised by IDLO’s Evaluation Unit. This exercise utilized a theory-driven, mixed-method approach, in line with the IDLO Evaluation Guidelines and OECD DAC standards.
On the margins of the Global Conference on SDG 16, IDLO and UNAIDs convened a side event on the intersection of health and the law, and why reform to criminal law is crucial to improving health, equality and peace.
Stigma and discrimination, especially against women and girls and key populations, is a major barrier to people using HIV services. Up to 60% of countries report having laws, regulations or policies that deter people in key populations from being able to protect themselves from, or get treatment for, HIV.
On World AIDS Day, IDLO launched a new report: Equal Rights, Equal Treatment, Ending AIDS: Strengthening and expanding HIV-related legal services and rights.
One of the challenges in scaling up HIV-related legal services is the limited number of knowledgeable, skilled and committed lawyers to provide such services. Part of the solution therefore lies in building the capacity of law schools to ensure law graduates are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to support human rights-based approaches to HIV. Many universities, including in East Africa, offer clinical legal education programs to give students direct experience of providing legal information to clients.
Adolescent girls and young women account for 71 percent of new HIV infections among young people in sub-Saharan Africa. They are more vulnerable to HIV because they are often subjected to a range of gender and age based biases, discrimination and violence, including sexual assault, forced marriage and trafficking. Despite growing HIV-related responses, they and their communities most often do not have the capacity, voice and power to hold these service providers accountable for improved delivery of quality HIV-related services.
It is well recognized that discrimination against people living with HIV and affected populations (such as injecting drug users and women in the sex industry) blocks HIV prevention efforts. Discrimination discourages HIV testing and can limit access to care and treatment services. IDLO is working to provide legal information and representation to HIV-affected and key populations in Benin. Through collaboration with local organizations, IDLO is building local capacity in Benin and strengthening the legal response to help those living with HIV assert their rights and address intolerance.
IDLO has conducted a three-year project to strengthen the legal environment for the response to HIV in Papua New Guinea. Under the project, the PNG Development Law Association was established as the country's first non-governmental legal aid service to address the rights of vulnerable populations. In collaboration with AusAID, IDLO provided financial and technical support; expanded access to legal information, representation and services for people living with and populations vulnerable to HIV, including victims of domestic violence; and raised awareness of rights and protections.
Tolerance of minorities (religious, sexual or otherwise) remains low in Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North African countries. People living with HIV are among the groups facing most discrimination. The virus is associated with stigmatized behaviors, such as sex between men and drug use. Many people with HIV are thus forced into the shadows, denied treatment, at risk of abuse and imprisonment. IDLO has been working with UNAIDS and local partners to help hundreds of people living with, and affected by, HIV in Egypt to access health and legal services.