The need to protect human rights among vulnerable populations has been identified as crucial in the national efforts on prevention, treatment and mitigation of the socioeconomic impact of HIV and TB. Persons living with HIV are more vulnerable to TB infection due to their suppressed immune system. The law has been identified as an important tool in the fight against HIV and TB; it can perpetrate discrimination and isolate the people most vulnerable to HIV and TB infections. The law can also act as a tool that can facilitate TB patients to access treatment in a manner that respects their human rights. It is on the basis of this that the StopTB Partnership, UNAIDS, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria and KELIN partnered to run the first ever symposium on HIV, TB, Human Rights and the Law at the recently concluded 44th Union World Conference on Lung Health, in Paris, France. This was done with support from GIZ.
The symposium was co-chaired by the Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership Dr. Lucica Ditiu and Dr. Ruben Granich, a senior advisor on care and treatment, special initiatives at UNAIDS. It was attended by over 125 people, and sought to meet the following objectives:
- Demonstrate the link between HIV, TB and human rights in relation to TB patients in detention.
- Share success cases and programme experiences from Kenya, Russia and South Africa on the use of the law to uphold the right of TB patients.
- Discuss possible strategies on how to ensure communities use laws to protect and promote the rights of TB patients.
The Executive Director of KELIN, Allan Maleche, kicked of the sessions by screening a five minute video of TB patients who have been detained in Kenyan prisons, and spoke about other cases of imprisonment of TB patients in Kenya. Presentations were made by John Stephens, an attorney at Section 27 who spoke about the ground breaking South African Constitutional Court judgment, Dudley Lee vs. Minister of Health . In her presentation, Lynette Mabote, the Advocacy team leader at ARASA spoke about the use of human rights literacy as a strategy to empower community members to use the law. Masha Tvaradze, a programme officer at Eurasian Harm Reduction Network, spoke on TB treatment and the right to health in Eastern Europe for injecting drug users. Meg Davis a Senior Human Rights Advisor at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria concluded by presenting the new funding model of the Global Fund. She emphasised the need to incorporate human rights activities and programmes in country proposals as a key requirement by the global fund.
The plenary discussions revealed the need to have more sessions at the conference that allowed for the voices of the community to be heard and more discussion on human rights issues as they relate to TB and HIV. The role of human rights activists in ensuring access to affordable and quality TB services was acknowledged as important in the fight against TB.
A copy of the presentation made by Allan Maleche is available here .
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