GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR HIV-RELATED LEGAL SERVICES
Toolkit: Scaling Up HIV-Related Legal Services
DO NO HARM Legal services will consider the possible harms that an intervention might cause to individuals and communities, as well as the benefits. Legal services will not implement activities that cause more harm than good. Legal services should fully advise clients on the possible risks of a course of action and always proceed on the basis of their client’s wishes. This should also involve securing all available protection where there are risks of harm involved.
Courtesy of UNAIDS
Case study: Health Policy Initiative, Viet Nam The Health Policy Initiative conducts a legal assistance project in Viet Nam that works in partnership with the Center for Consulting on Law and Policy in Health and HIV/AIDS, the Vietnam Lawyers Association and networks of people living with HIV. The initiative is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The initiative provides legal education, outreach, advice, representation and a national legal advice hotline. Services are provided in five provinces. Each legal service has one full-time lawyer, two part-time lawyers, one support officer and four or five HIV-positive peer counsellors. Employing people living with HIV ensures that the services are responsive to the needs of clients and helps make people living with HIV feel comfortable seeking services. The following are two examples of cases that have received assistance from the Health Policy Initiative’s legal assistance project in Viet Nam. Child’s right to attend school The client and his wife were both HIV-positive. Schoolteachers refused to let their child attend the school, due to objections from other parents. The teachers said the parents must produce an HIV test result, and only if the child was HIV-negative would the child be allowed to attend the school. The legal service arranged for a medical specialist to talk to the teachers and parents about HIV to help to alleviate unfounded fears. As a result, the child was allowed to go to the school. Prisoner’s rights The client’s son was an injecting drug user who had been sentenced to three years in prison. The son developed an HIV-related illness, with fever, weight-loss, a cough and a fungal infection. The law states that imprisonment can be deferred, so that prisoners living with HIV can seek treatment in the community. The legal service helped to prepare an application for release. The director of the prison board approved the application, and the son was transferred to the community for treatment. Health Policy Initiative Viet Nam (2009). Making policies work. Available at http://www.healthpolicyinitiative.com/index.cfm?id=news&year=2009. 20