A CALL TO SADC STATES TO REVIEW AND REPEAL LAWS AND POLICIES THAT CRIMINALISE KEY POPULATIONS

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) wishes to acknowledge significant progress achieved in HIV/AIDS Key Populations (KPs) programming in Southern Africa. This progress has been evident in several key areas, including improved coordination of HIV programs in SADC countries, strong support from Ministries of Health and National AIDS Councils (NACs), increased domestic health financing, the development of responsive documents tailored to the unique healthcare needs of KPs, and recent advancements in the steps necessary towards decriminalizing sex work in South Africa. Additionally, we recognise the commendable efforts to enhance healthcare access for key populations. These efforts have led to improved access to essential services such as HIV testing, treatment, and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) – including injectable long acting PrEP in the near future, contributing significantly to mitigate the impact of HIV burden within these communities. We also fully acknowledge efforts being made to collecting accurate and representative data on key populations to inform program development and resource allocation. This is a positive step forward, helping identify service gaps and assessing the effectiveness of interventions. However, amidst these achievements, challenges persist in the region. Policies that criminalize key populations continue to impede their access to healthcare services, resulting in poor health outcomes. Reports of stigma and discrimination in public healthcare facilities remain a concern. Of note is the escalating influence of the anti-rights movement, characterized by well-funded, globally interconnected networks, which poses a significant threat to the progress achieved thus far. A movement that threatens the rights of key populations is a movement than threatens the rights of the entire population. Not only do we need to rise against the anti-rights movement but we need to go further and advance the 10-10-10 targets – the majority of SADC countries need to reform laws and decriminalise key populations, thus advancing human rights and the right to health.

In light of the above we call for the following: – A Review and repealing of all laws and policies that criminalise key populations, and take actions to prevent new criminalisation laws from being enacted – Domestication of all SADC Regional instruments that speak to Key Populations health programming. – Generating and using scientific data on key populations, including on what are the barriers to access to services, to influence evidence-informed programming. – Recognise the contribution of community-led responses and meaningfully engage key population-led organizations and support community-led responses in national HIV responses, in particular o Advocacy o Community participation in coordination and accountability, o service delivery o evidence generation, including community-led monitoring – Develop and/or improve existing mechanisms of public financing (social contracting) that advance the 30-80-60 targets and that are accessible by community-led organizations, including key population-led organizations – Increase domestic resource mobilisation for HIV programming that is inclusive of key population-related programming, in order to minimise reliance on international donor funding.