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National Review and Consultation on Legal and Policy Framework on HIV and AIDS

The USAID-sponsored consultation from 16 to 17 September, at NagaWorld Hotel in Phnom Penh, exemplifies a wide range of policy issues on HIV and AIDS. Mr. John Godwin, UNAIDS consultant, presented a list of laws and policies that are in conflict with implementation of HIV and AIDS programmes in Cambodia, including recommendations by Global Committee on HIV and Law.

Cambodia made many laws and policies and each provides good and bad impacts on HIV and ADIS programme implementation. These laws and policies include Drug Control Law (2012), Village and Commune Safety Policy, Clean City Plan, Anti-Human Trafficking Law (2008), HIV/AIDS Law (2002), Declaration 086 on HIV/AIDS in workplace (Prokas 086), and Anti-Domestic Violence Law.

Drug users are still punishable under the Cambodian drug control law if they refuse to have their drug dependency treated. The social and public order as parts seen in the laws and a clean city plan is frequently used to arrest drug users, entertainment workers and LGBT (most-at-risk populations) who use the public parks. Village and commune safety policy encourages more arrests, especially drug users.

The consequences of the arrests drive most-at-risk populations in hiding and makes outreach workers impossible to deliver HIV prevention services. The arrests also increase more stigma and discrimination against them and frighten them to receive their health care. This might make new HIV-infection worse.

In KHANA’s Stigma Index Study 2010, 10% refuse to seek for their sexual reproductive health services; 79% are advised not to have a child; 17% are unemployed as result of discrimination and 40% fear of punishment.

All laws and policies shall be reviewed and amendments are necessary to ensure these laws and policies are no longer barriers for HIV programming.

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