BY AMUYA LYDIA OMECH
Kampala, UGANDA|SHIFT MEDIA NEWS| A toolkit for legal professionals working on HIV related services has been released.
The toolkit is a brainchild of the Women’s Probono Initiative (WPI) in collaboration with the UNAIDS.
The kit that was launched at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday seeks to highlight the plight of Persons Living with HIV/AIDs (PLHIV/A) who continue to face challenges of stigma and discrimination.
Research has indicated that discrimination and stigma against PLHIV/A hinders their access to basic social services including access to drugs and the right to a fair hearing in the courts of law.
The finalized Women’s Probono Initiative Tool seek among others to address the various laws in place that aggravates offences committed by PLHIV/A.
Primah Kwagala the WPI Chief said the: “The finalized tool kit shall be used to incorporate HIV related legal services into Probono and Legal AID programs of members of the Uganda Law Society and government agencies.”
Judge hails WPI
Lady Justice Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya who was a key note speaker observed that many persons living with HIV are discriminated.
She noted with concern the fact that Judiciary sits at the tail end when it comes to addressing issues (laws) related to HIV and persons living with HIV/Aids.
“All people should be treated with fair Justice both deep or shallow pockets. Anybody can catch AIDs by living with a person with HIV or any other form. So allegations of someone having intercourse with a healthy person and an infected one should be avoided to stop the stigma and discrimination,” she advised.
She noted the aspect of denial of persons living with HIV/A in areas of employment, education and travels abroad.
The expectation of the HIV legal related services is using a bottom upper approach.
Food Rights Boss chips in
David Kabanda the Executive Director Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights noted that testing HIV positive isn’t a death sentence.
The advocate for social justice and right to food in Uganda noted that with the onset of antiretroviral people with HIV can still afford to prolong their lives. “A human rights based approach is key in care ,prevention and treatment of Persons living with HIV/AIDS.,” said Kabanda
— The Women's Probono Initiative (@WomenProbono) November 17, 2021
Tool Kit Outline
COVID 19 challenges
The participants observed how the Covid-19 pandemic had made it difficult for patients to access drugs leading to loss of lives. The pandemic, it emerged also contributed to a high rate of infection of HIV in the young people due to lack of food. Whereby a chapati vendor would offer a chapati to a girl and uses her hence infecting her.