Policy Paper on Ensuring the Right to Health in the Context of Prevention of HIV

Institute for Democratic Initiatives (IDI) has published “Policy Paper on Ensuring the right to Health in the Context of Prevention of HIV”.

In addition to being a public health problem, HIV is also an integral part of the right to health recognized by International Human Rights Law (IHRL).  The promotion and protection of human rights are critical to preventing the spread of HIV and reducing the socioeconomic impact of the disease. 

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the legislation on the strategy to combat the disease caused by HIV in Azerbaijan and its implementation in the context of the right to health. The methodology of the research is based on the review of international and domestic law, determining the evaluations of the international monitoring mechanisms on the Republic of Azerbaijan, media monitoring and obtaining information by making appropriate inquiries to state bodies.

The Republic of Azerbaijan (AR) has adopted the relevant legislative framework for the fight against HIV and several state guarantees have been determined. However, as a result of the analysis of the compliance of the Legislation with international standards, the following gaps and problems have been identified:

  • The strategic plan does not detail the provisions related to participation in the fight against HIV;
  • HIV legislation does not make clear provisions for effective community cooperation;
  • HIV legislation does not provide mechanisms for periodic review of legislation and by-laws in accordance with the specific needs of HIV;
  • Sanctions are envisaged in the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences for infected patients for knowingly (intentionally) not informing about the disease (criminal sanction) or avoiding examination and treatment (administrative sanction). However, when such sanctions are applied without considering the context, they create severe consequences for patients. In order to avoid such problems, criminal and quasi-criminal legislation should be clarified. However, the positive criminal and administrative offenses law, currently in force, does not have such clarity;
  • The general and specific anti-discrimination guarantees in the fight against HIV are of a general nature in the legislation, and what exactly they mean should be clarified at the normative level;

The following problems regarding the compliance of the practical implementation of the legislation with national legislation and international law have been identified:

  • In Azerbaijan, the HIV Center currently operates only in Baku. Therefore, it is questionable whether that Center provides the necessary level of service;
  • State bodies related to anti-discrimination and anti-stigmatization carry out the obligation of awareness-raising at a formal level;
  • There are inconsistencies in the capture of patient statistics;
  • The level of transparency of penitentiary institutions is not desirable in AR. Therefore, the possibilities of verifying the accuracy of the information provided by the Ministry of Justice regarding medical assistance and medical services in alternative ways are limited;
  • Independent Ombudsman control over the implementation of HIV legislation is also not desirable. Considering the sensitivity of the problem, there is a need to create a specific working group within the Ombudsman institution that oversees this area;
  • Since community cooperation for the purpose of the implementation of HIV legislation is not established in accordance with the positive practice in the legislation, there are problems in practice in this field.
  • Restrictions on NGO legislation create additional obstacles for HIV patients to exercise their rights.

The mentioned issues were comprehensively investigated in the policy paper, and recommendations were given at the end.