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NAT urges EU to Protect People Living with HIV From Discrimination

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The National AIDS Trust is calling upon the European Union to provide for the first time explicit protection from discrimination for people living with HIV from the point of diagnosis. The European Commission announced today plans for a new European equality directive. The directive will ban discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, religion and sexual orientation but the current draft does not protect people living with HIV.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, comments:

“Discrimination against people living with HIV is pervasive across the European Union. People living with HIV face discrimination in provision of goods and services, employment, healthcare, family rights across Europe. 

The National AIDS Trust were one of many civil society organisations calling for this new directive, which we welcome. However, by not providing explicit protection for people living with HIV, the European Commission is failing to address the high levels of stigma and discrimination which persist across the EU.

Discrimination and stigma remain the number one barrier to an effective public health response to the HIV epidemic in Europe.”

In the UK everyone living with HIV is protected from discrimination under the 2005 Disability Discrimination Act.  At the European level, HIV is not specifically addressed in an equality directive and the disability-related directive does 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. 

Deborah Jack continues:

“If this directive included explicit protection for people living with HIV from the point of diagnosis, UK citizens living with HIV would have genuine freedom to live and work in any EU member state and still enjoy the same level of legal protection as available in the UK.”

Notes to the editor:

For more information contact Katherine Sladden 0207 8146733 / press@nat.org.uk

Further resources:

Proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation [presented by the Commission 2 July 2008]
http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=373&furthe...

National AIDS Trust and AIDS Action Europe ‘Legislation and Judicial Systems in Relation to HIV and AIDS’ [2007]
[Editor: link no longer available]

HIV in Europe

In 2006 UNAIDS data showed there were over 670,100 people living with HIV in the European Union (see UNAIDS 2006 Report on the global AIDS epidemic).

National AIDS Trust

The National AIDS Trust (NAT) is the UK's leading independent policy and campaigning voice on HIV and AIDS. It aims to prevent the spread of HIV, encourage early diagnosis, ensure people living with HIV have access to treatment and care, and eradicate HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
www.nat.org.uk