THE Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) has welcomed the recent announcement made by the Government that it wants to repeal a legal provision that criminalises wilful transmission of HIV/AIDS to a partner in keeping in line with global trends and standards.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi said the proposed amendments would be incorporated in the Marriages Amendment Bill, which is at drafting stage.
The global thinking is that this legal provision stigmatises People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV) and as an organisation that deals with key populations, ZCLDN welcomed the justice minister’s response.
It said Zimbabwe should keep abreast with modern trends especially regarding the rights of key populations who for years have faced stigma, discrimination, unlawful arrests, incarceration and untimely deaths.
The ZCLDN noted with concern that the law besides causing stigma to PLWHIV, was being used by other people to settle personal differences, resulting in some PLWHIV hauled before the courts of law and serving time in prison.
According to the Oslo Declaration on HIV criminalisation, the practice was doing more harm than good to public health and human rights.
A growing body of evidence suggests that the criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, potential exposure and non-intentional transmission is doing more harm than good in terms of its impact on public health and human rights.
“As ZCLDN, our suggestion is that a better alternative to the use of the criminal law, are measures that create an environment that enable people to seek testing, support and timely treatment, and to safely disclose their HIV status.
“We also urge people including People Who Use Drugs, to always practice safe sex at all times as the wilful transmission of the virus is a malicious and deliberate act; it is premeditated with the intent to injure. In the same light we hope that the Government will consider the issue of drug use in the current as the country laws have not helped to decrease the use of illicit drugs.”