Table 6: HIV, AIDS and freedom of expression and information

Table 6: HIV, AIDS and Freedom of Expression and Information

  • Government censors HIV-prevention information directed at LGBTI persons, sex workers, or people who use drugs on the grounds that it is obscene or promotes criminalized behavior.
  • Schools deny young people information about HIV and AIDS, safer sex, sexuality, or condoms.
  • Media reporting on HIV engages in stigma and stereotyping rather than providing factual information.
  • Government restricts a newspaper, website, or other communication by activists critical of government AIDS policies.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRC 13(1): The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.

CRC 17: States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.


CRC General Comment No. 4: Providing numerous connections between the provisions of art. 13 and the right of children to access information regarding their health. CRC/GC/2003/4 (2003).

CRC General Comment No. 3: Has concluded that adolescent’s right to information about HIV and AIDS is part of the right to information. CRC/GC/2003/3, ¶4 (2003).

CRC General Comment No. 3: Finding that “[a]dequate measures to address HIV/AIDS can be undertaken only if the rights of children and adolescents are fully respected. The most relevant rights in this regard, in addition to those enumerated in paragraph 5 above, are the following: the right to access information and material aimed at the promotion of their social, spiritual and moral well being and physical and mental health (art. 17) . . . .”, CRC/GC/2003/3, ¶6 (2003).

CRC: Recommending that Panama “provide children with accurate and objective information about substance use, including hard drugs and tobacco, and protect children from harmful misinformation,” as well as to “strengthen its efforts to address adolescent health issues… [including those] to prevent and combat HIV/AIDS and the harmful effects of drugs.” CRC/C/15/Add.233 (2004).

CRC: Has expressed concern that Estonia is “increasing number of HIV-infections among injecting drug users” and encouraged the government “to continue its efforts to provide children with accurate and objective information about substance use”. CRC/C/15/Add.196 (2003).

Other Interpretations 

SR Education: Has noted the need for sexuality education in schools, as well as the need for schools to ensure the safety of gay and lesbian students.

SR Freedom of Expression and Information: Has commented on the abuse of the rights of sex workers and LGBT persons; noted restrictions on public speech and denial of HIV and AIDS information to these communities; noted the detention of persons in Kuwait because of a letter mentioning a lesbian relationship; and expressed concern in Uganda about the arrests and harassment of two gender-non-conforming women.