Table 9: HIV, AIDS and the right to non-discrimination and equality

Table 9: HIV, AIDS and the Right
to Non-discrimination and Equality

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • A person is denied work, housing, medicine, or education due to actual or presumed HIV status.
  • A child affected by HIV faces discrimination because of his or her parents’ HIV status.
  • Government-sponsored HIV-prevention materials exclude information targeted at certain minorities such as LGBTI persons, persons with disabilities, or people who use drugs.
  • Discrimination in access to property and divorce render women more vulnerable to HIV.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICCPR 2(1): Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. HRC: Finding that Jamaica “should also ensure that persons living with HIV/AIDS, including homosexuals, have equal access to medical care and treatment.” CCPR/C/JAM/CO/3 (HRC, 2011).HRC: Recommending to Cameroon that “public health programmes to combat HIV/AIDS should have a universal reach and ensure universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support.” CCPR/C/CMR/CO/4 (HRC, 2010).

CHR: Confirmed that the term “other status” in anti-discrimination provisions includes health status, including HIV status (1995 and 1996).

CRC 2: States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. CRC: Explaining the right to non-discrimination: “States parties have the obligation to ensure that all human beings below 18 enjoy all the rights set forth in the Convention without discrimination (art. 2), including with regard to ‘race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status’. These grounds also cover adolescents’ sexual orientation and health status (including HIV/AIDS and mental health). Adolescents who are subject to discrimination are more vulnerable to abuse, other types of violence and exploitation, and their health and development are put at greater risk. They are therefore entitled to special attention and protection from all segments of society.” General Comment No. 4, CRC/GC/2003/4, ¶6 (2003).CRC Committee: observing of Ukraine that “the principle of non-discrimination with respect to . . . children living with HIV/AIDS . . . is not fully implemented in practice” and that there is a “lack of an express reference to the principle of non-discrimination with respect to the protection of children’s rights in domestic legislation.” CRC/C/UKR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011)

CRC Committee: in the context of anti-discrimination, recommended that Kazakhstan undertake awareness-raising and sensitization of legal and other professionals on the impact of HIV and AIDS on children (2006).

CRC Committee: Has recommended that States protect children from HIV-based discrimination in Ukraine (2011), Angola (2010), Burundi (2010), Cameroon (2010), Paraguay (2010), Burkina Faso (2010), Tajikistan (2010), Mozambique (2009), Niger (2009), Mauritania (2009), Malawi (2009), Moldova (2009), Chad (2009), Bhutan (2008), Djibouti (2008), Uruguay (2007).

CEDAW 1: For the purposes of the present Convention, the term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

CEDAW Committee: Has made several recommendations on the elimination of discrimination against women in the context of HIV and AIDS (see Table 12, below).CEDAW Committee: Recommending to Singapore “to review and repeal the law requiring a work – permit holder, including foreign domestic workers, to be deported on grounds of pregnancy or diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.” CEDAW/C/SGP/CO/4 (CEDAW, 2011)

ICERD 5: States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: (e)(iv) The right to public health, medical care, social security and social services.

CERD: Expressed concern at the high rate of HIV and AIDS among minorities and ethnic groups and recommended that governments take appropriate action in Estonia (2006) and South Africa (2006 and 2003).

Other Interpretations 

Select National Non-Discrimination Laws: