Anti-discrimination legislation democratic Societies;HIV/AIDS, A novel test case
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The advent of the Human Immuno Deficiency Virus-HIV and Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome- AIDS, has posed serious challenges to modern societies, threatening to undermine decades of social and economic gains. Not only does the pandemic have a clinical impact i.e. high mortality (200 deaths per day in Zambia attributed to HIV related illnesses), but furthermore, affects the enjoyment of freedoms and liberties that underpin society's democratic construct. Stigma and discrimination of people on the basis of perceived or actual HIV status, has resulted in denial of enjoyment of various rights ranging from the right to life, right through to such rights as to marry and found a family, with everything in between. Furthermore, they have been found to increase vulnerability to the pandemic and to undermine prevention and treatment efforts. With many policy responses being shaped by the all too familiar and often misconceived debate about public health versus individual rights, the delineation of legal rights and duties has been a necessary part of the policy debate. Moreover, the ongoing reports of serious and unjustified encroachments on the civil liberties of people with HIV have established beyond doubt that the law has a central role to play in HIV and AIDS policy. Anti-discrimination clauses in Constitutions and other legal codes are tools that must be utilised to combat HIV related discrimination. Historically, such clauses have made it unlawful to discriminate, thereby providing relief to victims of discrimination, but also, more proactively, engendered a respect for the rights of individuals. There is thus, a need to engage with such clauses so as to address the novel situation of HIV/AIDS.
- Law