The High Income Countries Dialogue of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law was held on 16–17 September 2011 in Oakland, USA. The Dialogue was hosted by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law and the UNDP, and was supported by the UNAIDS Secretariat. As part of a global drive to remove barriers to progress in the AIDS response, policy-makers and community advocates joined experts from the Global Commission on HIV and the Law for the final in a series of seven dialogues that have been held across the world. Indeed, 65 participants from 15 countries discussed and debated region-wide experiences of enabling and restrictive legal and social environments faced by people living with HIV, other key populations and those affected by HIV in high income countries. The San Francisco Human Right Commission also participated in the dialogue and issued a resolution in support of the Commission’s High Income countries dialogue.

According to UNDP HIV Practice Director Jeffrey O'Malley, "The law and its application can have an impact on the lives of people, especially those who are marginalized and disempowered. The law is a powerful instrument to challenge stigma, promote public health and protect human rights. We know that the laws and policies of High Income countries also affect developing countries. We have much to learn from the positive and negative experiences in high income countries on the interactions between the law, legislative reform, law enforcement practices and public health responses."

Legal responses in the context of HIV across high income countries are varied and evolving. For example, high income countries have accounted for the vast majority of criminal prosecutions relating to HIV non-disclosure, exposure or transmission. In 2010, the US launched a National AIDS Strategy that calls for an end to the criminalization of HIV transmission and exposure. Recently a number of countries, including Norway and Finland, have begun a review legal provisions that criminalize of HIV transmission and exposure. Responding on behalf of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D) of Oakland stated "the effectiveness of the global HIV response will depend not just on the scale up of HIV prevention, treatment and care, but on whether the legal and social environment support or hinder programmes for those who are most vulnerable. This requires bold and effective legal and policy measures to reach out to vulnerable communities and individuals at risk. The Bipartisan Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, which I co-chair, will deal with these very issues."

The rich discussion was skilfully moderated by Nisha Pillai. Please click here to access Nisha’s blog where she shares her thoughts about issues of criminalization.

Pictures, Videos and Documentations of Previous Regional Dialogues

Reports and background documents for regional dialogues are being posted on the Commission’s website as they are finalized. Pictures, videos and documentations of previous regional dialogues are also available on the Commission’s website:

  • For the Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue, please click here.
  • For the Caribbean Regional Dialogue, please click here.
  • For the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Dialogue, please click here.
  • For the Latin America Regional Dialogue, please click here.
  • For the Middle East & North Africa Regional Dialogue, please click here.
  • For the Africa Regional Dialogue, please click here.

Specialist Call for Submissions

Please note that the deadline for the ‘Specialist Call for Submissions’ to elicit the views of experts/specialized agencies or groups has been extended to 24 October 2011. In addition, the call has been sent to 20 faith-based organizations and 30 pharmaceutical companies/associations of pharmaceutical companies, inviting them to make a submission. The Specialist Call is available on the Commission’s website.

Analysis of Submissions

The Commission Secretariat is currently working on preparing an analysis of all the submissions received through the Regional Dialogues process. The analysis report will be published in early 2012. 

Third and Last Commission Meeting

The third Commission meeting will be held on 10-11 December 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. The aim of this two-day meeting will be for Commissioners to review and sign off the Commission’s findings and recommendations, and discuss follow-up, outreach and communication strategies. Following the meeting, the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) will be meeting in Geneva on 13-15 December. On 15 December, the PCB will hold a dialogue on enabling legal environments, where the Commission’s work will be featured.

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