Why NSP implementation programmes must respect and uphold legal and human rights
To a great extent, the successful implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) to address HIV and AIDS, TB & STIs, requires an environment that respects and upholds legal and human rights. Such an environment is crucial for the provision of and access to prevention and treatment services, disclosure, open dialogue, discrimination and stigma eradication. It is for this reason that Strategic Objective 4 of the current NSP is expressly aimed at developing an enabling and accessible legal framework that protects and promotes human rights, improves access to justice and reduces self-reported stigma related to HIV and TB by at least 50%. South Africa has the enabling policy environment required to eliminate stigma and discrimination and the NSP recognises the centrality of Constitutional values and human rights of people living with HIV and/or TB – or those who are at risk of infection – and recognises that their rights should be respected, protected and promoted.
South Africa has come a long way in addressing human rights in the context of HIV and AIDS. SANAC recognises however, that an ideal human rights environment will only thrive when there is a visible and concerted effort by the country to address the stigma that has for many years dogged those who are infected with HIV. To this end, SANAC’s Legal and Human Rights Technical Task Team (TTT) and the People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) sector are working on devising a South African Stigma Index that will provide indicators for monitoring stigma, with an overall aim of intensifying programmes to mitigate its manifestation and effects. The TTT has been carefully selected to appropriately advise on the characteristics of stigma and discrimination and the key population groups that are most affected or most at risk, for example, sex workers, men who have sex with other men and mobile and migrant workers.
Led by the national director of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission, Janet Love, the TTT comprises of some of the country’s leading legal and human rights experts. The team is mandated to:
- Provide expertise and leadership in setting priorities and strategic direction on the Legal and Human rights agenda of the NSP;
- Inform decision-making through clear and practical policy and programmatic recommendations that address HIV-related stigma and discrimination; and
- Advise on the monitoring and tracking of country-led legal and human rights strategies and inform further programming.
The Legal and Human Rights TTT is committed to providing leadership and direction to ensure equity and equality, promoting an accessible justice and legal system and ensuring that the rights of people living with HIV and TB, especially key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure, such as men who have sex with men and sex workers, are safeguarded.