UNAIDS welcomes Australia’s commitment to equal treatment of people living with HIV in its immigration policies
Press Statement by UNAIDS
GENEVA, 10 July 2014—UNAIDS welcomes confirmation from the Government of Australia that people living with HIV do not face an automatic exclusion, or unequal treatment when applying for entry, stay or residence visas. People living with HIV are treated similarly to other people with chronic health conditions and disabilities during the country’s immigration health assessment process. Applications for visas from people living with HIV will be assessed against criteria applying to anyone with a chronic health condition.
The announcement came ahead of the 20th International AIDS Conference, which will take place in Melbourne, Australia, from 20 to 25 July 2014.
“People living with HIV need equal opportunity to contribute to and benefit from today’s globalized world, where migration is increasingly important. Eliminating travel restrictions is not only a human right for individuals, it improves business prospects for communities,” said the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé.
UNAIDS advocates for the right to equal freedom of movement, regardless of HIV status. There is no evidence that restrictions on the entry, stay or residence of people living with HIV protect the public’s health. In 2012, more than 40 chief executives from some of the world’s largest companies signed a pledge opposing HIV restrictions, calling them discriminatory and bad for business.
As part of its ongoing dialogue with countries on this issue, UNAIDS has sent communications to all countries, territories and areas that appear to have HIV-related entry, stay and residence restrictions, and has raised the issue during official high-level visits. Australia has made important reforms to its migration health assessment requirements and procedures since the conclusion of a parliamentary inquiry on migration and disability in 2010, including an annual increase to the “significant cost threshold”, the elimination of the cost assessment related to health services for humanitarian visa applicants and improvements to increase the transparency of the health assessment process. These reforms were assessed against the criteria outlined by the International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions, co-chaired by the Government of Norway and UNAIDS, and it was concluded that Australia had met the task team’s standard.
Port Moresby – Oil Search Limited’s Managing Director, Peter Botten, has announced the Company’s platinum sponsorship of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) that will take place from 20 – 25 July in Melbourne, Australia. Mr. Botten made the announcement at a dinner in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG), after hosting a two-day tour of HIV treatment facilities for some of the world’s most pre-eminent leaders in the global HIV response.
Jan Beagle, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, and Professor Sharon Lewin, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2014, were among the delegates who participated in the tour of Hela Province in the country’s north, experiencing first-hand how the private sector is making significant inroads in addressing the HIV epidemic in PNG.
As guest of honour, Ms. Beagle addressed the high-level audience at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby, emphasising the importance of a multi-sectoral response and commended Oil Search for its public health interventions in PNG.
“The Oil Search Health Foundation, in partnership with the Government and civil society organisations, is providing impressive HIV-related services and using HIV as an entry point for broader health and development outcomes,” said Ms Beagle.
Local Co-chair of AIDS 2014, Professor Lewin, praised Oil Search for its generous support for the AIDS Conference as well as the Company’s innovative approach to delivering HIV prevention, treatment and care in PNG.
“I truly believe that companies like Oil Search are showing the leadership we need from the private sector and they should be applauded for the role they are playing in all our work to see the end of AIDS,” said Professor Lewin.
At the dinner, Mr. Botten highlighted the importance of bringing a slice of PNG to AIDS 2014, noting that the country’s geography, HIV prevalence level and Oil Search’s innovative public-private partnership with the PNG Government made a compelling case for the Company to sponsor the AIDS conference in Australia.
“I believe it is pertinent for Oil Search and our Health Foundation to demonstrate the impact the private sector can have on the response to HIV in PNG,” said Mr Botten. “Over the last two days, our guests have visited Tari Hospital and two health clinics to see for themselves how the public-private partnership we have established with the PNG National Department of Health is helping to overcome the challenges HIV patients and service providers face in treating and preventing HIV in remote locations.
“Using funds from the Global Fund Round 10 HIV grant, the Oil Search Health Foundation is working with the PNG Government and development partners to deliver better HIV programs, better counselling and treatment services and better outcomes in PNG than any of us could have achieved on our own,” said Mr. Botten.
Mr. Botten concluded by issuing a challenge to others in the private sector to follow Oil Search’s lead:
“Where national health systems are overburdened, the proactive participation of the private sector is not only needed, but an obligation. I encourage other industry leaders to rise to the challenge both in PNG and elsewhere around the world.”
Global Fund News Release
14 January 2014
GENEVA — UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria express deep concern that access to HIV services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people will be severely affected by a new law in Nigeria––further criminalizing LGBT people, organizations and activities, as well as people who support them.
The new law could prevent access to essential HIV services for LGBT people who may be at high risk of HIV infection, undermining the success of the Presidential Comprehensive Response Plan for HIV/AIDS which was launched by President Goodluck Jonathan less than a year ago.
The health, development and human rights implications of the new law are potentially far-reaching. Homosexuality is already criminalized in Nigeria. The new law further criminalizes LGBT people, organizations and activities. The law states: “A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable to conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”
The law also criminalizes any individuals or group of people who support “the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria.” The conviction is also 10 years imprisonment.
The provisions of the law could lead to increased homophobia, discrimination, denial of HIV services and violence based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. It could also be used against organizations working to provide HIV prevention and treatment services to LGBT people.
Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic globally––in 2012 there were an estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV in Nigeria. In 2010, national HIV prevalence in Nigeria was estimated at 4 percent among the general population and 17 percent among men who have sex with men.
In the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, all UN Member States committed to removing legal barriers and passing laws to protect populations vulnerable to HIV.
UNAIDS and the Global Fund call for an urgent review of the constitutionality of the law in light of the serious public health and human rights implications and urge Nigeria to put comprehensive measures in place to protect the ongoing delivery of HIV services to LGBT people in Nigeria without fear of arrest or other reprisals. UNAIDS and the Global Fund will continue to work with the Nigerian authorities and civil society organisations to ensure continued and safe access to HIV services for all people in Nigeria.
UNAIDS and the Global Fund urge all governments to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, through repealing criminal laws against adult consensual same sex sexual conduct; implementing laws to protect them from violence and discrimination; promoting campaigns that address homophobia and transphobia; and ensuring that adequate health services are provided to address their needs.
08 January 2014 - From the UNAIDS website
Millions of people live in fear and isolation because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Towards a free and equal world is an info-graphic that highlights the 78 countries where adult consensual same-sex sexual conduct is criminalized including the 7 countries where this conduct is punishable by death. We know that ending punitive laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity reinforces human rights and supports access to life-saving HIV services. The agenda addressing criminalization, supportive legal and protected environment is critical to achieving the UNAIDS vision of Zero new infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.
From the 18 September 2013 Global Fund News Release
YAOUNDE, Cameroon – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Cameroon jointly announced that they are both significantly increasing their funding for anti-retroviral drugs to meet the country’s fast–growing HIV treatment needs.
The Global Fund has approved a $US 20 million grant agreement for HIV treatment while Cameroon said it will nearly double the amount for purchasing anti-retroviral medicines in its annual budget, which will increase to $US 20 million in 2014 from $US 11 million.
The new joint funding initiatives, which make a big contribution to securing anti-retroviral treatment for more than 122,000 people, were announced by Cameroon’s Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, and by Lelio Marmora, the Global Fund’s head for Africa and the Middle East, at a news conference in Yaoundé on Tuesday evening.
“This new funding from the Global Fund and from Cameroon is going to make a real difference,” said Marmora. “We warmly welcome the government’s strong initiative in helping to put the procurement and supply of antiretroviral medicines on a strong footing.”
Minister Fouda said Cameroon was strongly committed to sharing the cost with the Global Fund of funding a significant increase in the number of people living with HIV who receive anti-retroviral treatment in the country.
“We must mobilize all our energy to achieve this goal and that means each of us must play an important part,” said Minister Fouda.
Today’s news means that extraordinary funding of $US 10 million announced by President Paul Biya in August to help cover antiretroviral needs until October 2014 will now be consolidated in the national budget on an annually recurring basis.
The number of people living with HIV who receive antiretroviral treatment has more than doubled since 2009. At the end of 2012, 122,000 people were on HIV treatment, or 42 percent of those requiring it. On average in 2012, some 1,400 new patients were starting treatment with anti-retroviral medicines every month.
Marmora and Minister Fouda said the Global Fund and Cameroon would also work together on a nationwide campaign, starting in 2015, to distribute up to 12 million long lasting insecticide-treated nets and provide every family in the country with protection against mosquitoes. More than 8 million nets distributed in an earlier campaign in 2011 will be starting to wear out by the time the 2015 campaign is launched.
“The Global Fund is strongly committed to supporting the net distribution campaign and will concentrate its resources and efforts on purchasing the long lasting nets, allowing Cameroon to distribute them throughout the country,” said Marmora.
Malaria is the leading cause of death among children under 5 in Cameroon.
The Global Fund and the U.S. President Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are also providing US$10 million of emergency funding to Cameroon in order to keep supplies of antiretroviral drugs flowing until the end of 2013.
Minister Fouda said all people, regardless of ethnic origin and religious belief, and including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) in Cameroon had unrestrained access to healthcare. “When somebody has a health problem, we treat the illness”, he said. “The right to treatment and to receiving healthcare is not in any way discriminatory.”
Marmora said the Global Fund condemned all forms of violence against people because of sexual orientation or perceived HIV status, adding that discrimination and criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people undermined efforts to defeat the HIV epidemic.
The murder of Eric Ohena Lembembe, a prominent Cameroonian journalist and LGBT activist, in July drew widespread international condemnation.
Global Health News
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.