Thursday, 30 October 2008

Azerbaijan: Forced HIV testing

Universal Periodic Review, UN Human Rights

Officially there 1010 registered HIV cases in Azerbaijan but NGOs report that there at least ten times more people living with HIV. In 2006 out of 263443 people tested for HIV at least 33000 have not gone through pre-test counseling.[1] Forced testing enforced by law enforcement bodies is common among the key affected populations such as sex workers, injection drug users and men who have sex with men.

Due to high unemployment a lot of men migrate to Russia and Ukraine to find employment. In 2006 10-15% of people living with HIV were infected in Ukraine or Russia and 89% of new HIV cases were men.[2] NGOs report that HIV testing is not available in the rural areas where most of the migrants come from and they have to travel long distances to be tested.

Organizations working with people living with HIV reported that access to ARV therapy was limited and HIV patients had to pay for receiving treatment. The treatment free of charge is guaranteed by 1996 law on ‘Prevention of spread of the diseases caused by AIDS’.

NGOs working in the area of sexual and reproductive rights and HIV prevention often become subject of attacks from the religious and state authorities through media channels. They are blamed for propaganda of sex and prostitution. Information about sexuality for young people is restricted and many feel uncomfortable discussing sexuality matters which makes them vulnerable to HIV.

- Take measures to stop forced testing of key populations affected by HIV/AIDS
- Conduct public campaigns on raising awareness about HIV prevention and testing targeting groups which are affected by HIV, specifically migrants, young people, sex workers and injecting drug users.
- Ensure free treatment for people living with HIV

UPR report on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Azerbaijan (via GenderStan)

[1] WHO data on HIV situation in Azerbaijan (2008) (accessed 3 September 2008)
[2] WHO Data on HIV situation in Azerbaijan (2008)

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