UN urges Asia to ditch punitive laws to fight AIDS

AP News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2013 4:23 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — U.N. health officials are urging Asian governments to get rid of what they say are punitive laws that hinder the battle against HIV and AIDS by discriminating against high-risk groups and deterring them from seeking treatment.

Steven Kraus, the UNAIDS director for Asia and the Pacific, said laws that punish same-sex activities and impose harsh drug sentences have prompted a rise in new transmissions in parts of Asia.

Kraus said on the sidelines of the International AIDS Society meeting in Malaysia on Monday that "punitive laws and practices that discriminate (against) people and prevent them from getting treatment are not helping."

Michel Kazatchkine, the U.N.'s special envoy for HIV and AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said the matter would "require political bravery" by governments.