Yemen moves to guarantee rights of people living with HIV

According to this article from IRIN/PlusNews, a group of Yemen’s members of Parliament have “prepared a draft law aimed at guaranteeing the rights of people living with HIV and preventing the spread of the virus. If approved, Yemen would be the third Middle Eastern state to pass such a law, after Djibouti and Sudan.”

About 2,400 cases of HIV have been registered in Yemen, but research suggests that “for every reported case, 20 to 30 go unreported.”  (If accurate, this would put the actual number of cases somewhere between 48,000 and 72,000.)

The proposed law is aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.  According to Abdul-Bari Dughaish, the leader of the group preparing the law, noted that “HIV-positive people risked being fired from their jobs and their children dismissed from school, because contracting the virus was sometimes viewed as a punishment from God.”  (The overwhelming majority of Yemen’s population is Muslim.)

The proposed law would:

  • Prohibit “discrimination against HIV-positive people seeking accommodation and services”
  • Prohibit employers from dismissing workers based on HIV status
  • Prohibit the exclusion of HIV+ children from schools
  • Provide free medical, psychological, and social care for HIV patients
  • Provide access to legal help for “those whose rights had been violated”
  • Make medicines and equipment used in HIV/AIDS efforts “free of taxes and customs duties”
  • “[C]ommit the Ministry of Health to educating people about HIV and how to prevent it, and to adding information about HIV and AIDS to Yemen’s school curriculum”
  • Provide for “a government fund to be established to support HIV-positive people and their families”
  • Provide for “the state to seek assistance from the private sector and international donors to accomplish all the goals set out in the proposed legislation”
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~ by h.e.g. on July 3, 2008.

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