Enabling Environment and Human Rights
Advocate programmes that protect human rights
- HIV-related workplace policies and programmes
- National HIV Related Discrimination Reporting and Redress System (NHDRRS)
- Greater Involvement of Persons Living with HIV
- Interventions to establish a policy and legal framework for discrimination reduction
All human beings including people living with HIV (PLHIV) are entitled to basic human rights – the right to health, the right to work and the right to an adequate standard of living. There are many factors that hinder access to these rights such as access to HIV prevention interventions and treatment, support and care services for PLHIV. The factors include social and cultural norms, stigma and discrimination and socio-economic issues.
Jamaica has taken preliminary steps to address some of these factors with the approval of the National HIV/AIDS Policy (May, 2005) and other sector policies including the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS (February 9, 2010). The workplace has been included in settings to be targeted with HIV risk reduction and discrimination reduction interventions. The workforce represents the age group with the highest number of persons reported with AIDS and advanced HIV (15-49 years). By the end of 2008, HIV/AIDS workplace sensitization and training efforts and policies had been developed in 180 large private sector companies with 136 of them having an adaptation of the national policies on HIV. The Jamaica Business Council on HIV/AIDS (JABCHA) that was established in September 2006 continues to lead the private sector’s response to HIV and engage its members in being part of the national HIV/AIDS response. This effort has been embraced by the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association, the Jamaica Employers’ Federation and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.
Four ministries are leading critical sectors of Labour and Social Security, Tourism, Education, and National Security in dealing with HIV and AIDS using workplace sector policies and programmes. In addition all government ministries have developed adaptations of the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS and continue to implement annual action plans based on policy objectives.
The Ministry of Health through the National HIV/STI Programme and the Ministry of Labour have joined forces to ensure that legislation supports policy objectives. Within this context, Government will be asked to:
- Amend the Public Health (Class 1 Notifiable Diseases) Order 2003. This Order classifies HIV and AIDS as a notifiable disease and as a communicable disease. Although HIV/AIDS is a communicable disease, it is not contagious. Persons living with HIV and AIDS have experienced discrimination because persons have interpreted communicable as contagious. HIV is NOT contagious. There is no reason to deny anyone access to swimming pools and other public facilities. HIV is not transmitted during every day social and casual contact. There is no reason to deny children living HIV access to school because of suspected or real HIV status. It is being recommended that the provisions relating to communicable diseases in Public Health Regulations or in the Education Act should not apply to HIV and AIDS. HIV and AIDS should remain in the classification of notifiable diseases for the sole purpose of surveillance and reporting.
- Support the integration of the redress aspect of the National HIV Related Discrimination Reporting and Redress System (NHDRRS) into existing redress entities.
- Support HIV Regulations needed to support the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS within the context of a proposed Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH).