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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Laws and Policies in Australia, China, Fiji and Viet Nam
ISSUE 74 - 27 August 2007
This issue of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update chronicles important laws and policies relating to HIV/AIDS that were adopted in Asia and the Pacific in 2006.
Australia Approves New HIV Testing Policy
In November 2006, Australia approved a new HIV Testing Policy. The policy revises the 1998 Testing Policy to accord with the changing epidemiological, technological and social context of the HIV epidemic in Australia. It maintains and reinforces the guiding principles of successive National HIV/AIDS strategies since 1989. The principles of the policy include: a) continued support for access to free and anonymous testing for individuals at risk of HIV infection who would not otherwise have access or consent to testing; b) access to anonymous testing for individuals who do not wish to disclose their name or Medicare number; and c) the accompaniment of all testing, whether voluntary or mandatory, by pre- and post-test discussion and informed consent. Notable changes in the policy include: a) routine offering of testing in the antenatal context; b) development of targeted education to ensure that those providing or offering HIV testing are equipped with up-to-date information about HIV; c) provision of information for referral on to care and support services; d) making HIV testing available through Medicare; e) development of rapid testing; and f) ensuring that testing is promoted and conducted in a culturally appropriate way with the use of interpreters when necessary.
The policy also gives consideration to circumstances where mandatory or compulsory testing may be appropriate, including: a) prior to blood, tissue and organ donation; b) immigration purposes; c) armed services personnel; d) purchasing some types of insurance; and e) rare situations where the welfare of others in the community depends on the testing of an individual (e.g. if a person suspected on reasonable grounds of being HIV positive persistently behaves in a way that places others at risk of infection).
China Approves Regulations on Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS
In 2006, China approved two major documents relating to HIV/AIDS. The first document includes regulations on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. They contain provisions to prevent and control the occurrence and spread of HIV/AIDS and to ensure the physical and public health of HIV/AIDS sufferers. Other regulations are directed at protecting persons who are or may be affected by HIV/AIDS and include: a) prohibiting discrimination against persons infected with HIV, AIDS sufferers, and their family members; b) guaranteeing protection for these persons in marriage, employment, medical treatment, and education; c) prohibiting medical institutions from refusing treatment based on HIV/AIDS status; d) requiring free counseling and preliminary screening to be provided to those who accept HIV counseling and testing voluntarily; and e) requiring medical institutions to provide preventive care, and to pregnant and postpartum women, including care to those infected with HIV.
The second document is the Action Plan (2006-2010) for reducing and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The general objectives of the Plan are to: a) improve the working of government-led multi-sectoral approaches on HIV control, with strong societal participation; b) totally implement the measures on HIV prevention, control, and treatment; c) reduce the harmful effects of HIV on people living HIV, AIDS patients, their families and the general population; and d) keep the number of HIV infections within 1.5 million by the year of 2010. The Plan also sets out specific objectives and strategies with respect to the following: a) education and communication on prevention and treatment; b) intervention measures relating to risky behavior, drug use, mother-child transmission, and the use of condoms; c) strengthening the safety of the blood supply; d) provision of health care, including treatment with ARVs; e) social benefits for orphans; f) testing and surveillance; g) research; and h) institution and capacity building.
Fiji Issues Notification of Infectious Diseases
On 12 January 2006, Fiji issued a Notification of Infectious Diseases under Section 68 of the Public Health Act. For the first time, the notification amends the schedule of the Public Health Act concerning infectious diseases to make HIV/AIDS a notifiable infectious disease. The notification reflects the efforts of the Government to address HIV/AIDS within the framework of the Public Health Act. Under that Act, the Government is authorized to order the medical surveillance, restraint, isolation, removal, and treatment of persons suffering from an infectious disease or who, as a result of contact with an infected person may be or become a source of infection. Making HIV/AIDS a notifiable disease is also designed to improve the Government's efforts to accurately monitor cases and the course of infection.
Viet Nam Enacts Law on Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS
In 2006, Viet Nam enacted a new law on the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS. The law contains provisions to provide people infected with HIV/AIDS with the right to: a) an integrated life within the community and society; b) treatment and health care; c) education, vocational training and employment; d) protection of privacy and confidentiality with respect to HIV/AIDS; and e) refusal of examination or treatment in the last phase of the disease. It also sets out measures to ensure that people infected with HIV/AID a) do not transmit the virus to other people; b) inform their HIV-positive test result to the spouses or fiancé; and c) adhere to ARV treatment regulations. The law prohibits the following: 1) purposefully transmitting or trying to transmit HIV to another person; 2) threatening to transmit HIV to another person; 3) stigmatizing and/or discriminating against people infected with HIV/AIDS; 4) abandoning underage children infected with HIV; 5) publicizing the name, age, address, or images of a person infected with HIV/AIDS or disclosing information about a person's HIV infection to others without consent; 6) falsely reporting that a person is infected with HIV; 7) compulsory HIV testing other than cases provided for in the Law; 8) transfusion of HIV-contaminated blood or blood products or transplantation of tissues or body parts contaminated with HIV to another person; and 9) refusing to provide examinations or treatment to a person on the grounds that this person is or is suspected to be infected with HIV/AIDS.
The law also contains provisions for: a) the responsibilities of government organizations, individuals, and families; b) educational and communication measures directed particularly at drug users, commercial sex workers, people who have sexually transmitted diseases, homosexuals, mobile populations, and pregnant women; c) the integration of HIV/AIDS education into sex education; d) the encouragement of voluntary testing; e) the prohibition of HIV discrimination and testing in the context of employment; f) preventive activities in the workplace and in education; g) harm reduction activities for persons infected with HIV; h) the right to counseling, including counseling before and after testing; i) epidemiological surveillance; j) voluntary testing except as ordered by a court and for certain employment as to be determined; k) confidentiality of test results; l) required bio-safety and blood safety measures; m) prevention of mother-child transmission; n) prevention of sexually transmitted diseases; o) care and treatment and the right to access to AIDS medicines and health insurance supported by the State; p) care for abandoned children; q) training; r) and financing. This law repeals the Ordinance of 31 May 1995 on the same subject.
All previous issues of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update can now be found on UNFPA's website at: http://www.unfpa.org/parliamentarians/news/newsletters.htm .
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biennial International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD). The first IPCI/ICPD was held in November 2002 in Ottawa, Canada, the second in October 2004 in Strasbourg, France and the third in November 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand. These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter.
Thanks to Center for Reproductive Rights and Harvard University School of Public Health for their contributions to the content of this newsletter.
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