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Call for the European Union to prohibit discrimination against people living with HIV

Thursday, July 3, 2008

We the undersigned call upon the European Union to provide explicit protection from discrimination for people living with HIV from the point of diagnosis in the proposed Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

This Directive provides an important and welcome opportunity to establish consistent legal protections from discrimination for all EU citizens. However, the current proposal for the Directive makes no mention of people with HIV, despite the persistently high levels of stigma and discrimination they experience.   

The European Union has previously committed itself to combating discrimination against people living with HIV. The Dublin Declaration on Partnership to Fight HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia commits member states to

‘combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia, including through a critical review and monitoring of existing legislation, policies and practices with the objective of promoting the effective enjoyment of all rights for people living with HIV/AIDS and members of affected communities.’

This is reaffirmed in the Vilnius Declaration where there is a commitment to

‘continue to develop and implement relevant legislation, in particular with a view to prohibiting discrimination, inter alia in employment, on the grounds of HIV status ....’

Despite these commitments, disability-related provisions in EU equality law do not contain a definition of disability that explicitly includes HIV positive status. This leaves member states free either to protect or not to protect people living with HIV from discrimination from the point of diagnosis.

There are now over 700,000 people living with HIV across the EU, and this number is rising. We know that discrimination against people living with HIV is pervasive across all EU member states. The recent report from UNAIDS, undertaken by WHO Europe, on ‘Progress on Implementing the Dublin Declaration’ identifies continuing discrimination as a real challenge. The seminar report from the National AIDS Trust and AIDS Action Europe ‘Legislation and Judicial Systems in relation to HIV and AIDS’ [2007] highlights discrimination in provision of goods and services, employment, healthcare, data protection, family rights and the legal system. Such discrimination is a breach of fundamental human rights and is a significant barrier to an effective public health response to this epidemic.

The European Union must take definitive action to make a reality of the Dublin and Vilnus Declarations by ensuring that this new Directive explicitly and clearly outlaws discrimination against all people living with HIV across the EU from the point of diagnosis.

For further information about the campaign to bring an end to HIV discrimination across the European region, including a Russian-language version of the petition and some questions and answers about the campaign please click here [Editor: link no longer available] or contact policyandcampaigns@nat.org.uk.

European Union HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum

AIDS Action Europe

European AIDS Treatment Group

The National AIDS Trust [UK]

Terrence Higgins Trust [UK]

AIDES [France]

Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe  [Germany]

HivEurope

HIV-Sverige  [Sweden]

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union [Hungary]

Czech AIDS Help Society [Czech Republic]

Life is Going On Estonian Women's association against HIV and AIDS [Estonia]

The Finnish AIDS Council [Finland]

NGO AIDS-i Tugikeskus (AIDS Information & Support Centre), Tallinn, [Estonia]

Medical Centre 'Tervisekeskus Elulootus', Tallinn, [Estonia]

Freshwinds [UK]

Waverley Care [UK]

Seres [Portugal]

Alaturi de Voi Foundation [Romania]

NAZ project [UK]

Sensoa vzw [Belgium]

Christian Aid [UK]

i-base [UK]

The Sexual Health Centre [Ireland]

African HIV Policy Network [UK]

Bloomsbury Patient Network [UK]

The Eddie Surman Trust and Positiveline [UK]

Soa Aids  [Netherlands]

Aids fonds [Netherlands]

Deutsche AIDS-Stiftung [Germany] 

HIV Danmark [Denmark]

Polish National Network of PLWHA (SIEC Plus) [Poland]

Foundation of Social Education [Poland]

Body and Soul [UK]

Stop AIDS- Gay Mens HIV Organisation [Denmark]

George House Trust [UK]

AIDS Hilfe Schweiz [Switzerland]

Lithuanian Positive Group [Lithuania]

Odyseus [Slovakia] 

Healthy Options Project Skopje (HOPs) [Macedonia]

NPS Italia Onlus [Italy]

VEPO Austria [Vienna/Austria]

Italian League for Fighting AIDS [Italy]

Centre for Life [Greece] 

Cyprus Family Planning Association [Cyprus]

Elton John AIDS Foundation [UK]

Dose of Love [Bulgaria]

Vivir en Positivo [Spain]

Concern Worldwide [Ireland] 

HIV Info [Iceland]

Asociacion Lucha Anti-Sida [Spain] 

The Open Heart House [Ireland]

Aids & Child a.s.b.l [Luxembourg]

DIA+LOGS [Latvia]

HIV/AIDS Info Balkan NGO [Bulgaria] 

SKUC - Magnus [Slovenia] 

AMUVIH (Asociación Murciana de VIH) [Spain] 

Malta Gay Rights Movement [Malta]

Youth Against AIDS [Latvia] 

Anonymous AIDS Association [Hungary]

RUBSI (Research Unit in Behaviour and Social Issues) [Cyprus]

CESIDA [Spain] 

Sare [Spain] 

The Observatorio de Derechos Humanos y VIH/Sida de la Red2002 [Spain]

The Cara Trust [UK]

SIDA Studi [Spain] 

Yorkshire MESMAC [UK]

HIV Treatment Working Group [Spain] 

GAT [Portugal]