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Jun 30, 2023

Punitive H.I.V-AIDS Laws Repealed

Today the House moved to repeal Section forty-six A and seventy-three A of the Laws of Belize that criminalize the spread of H.I.V.-AIDS. The twenty-two-year-old statute holds H.I.V.-positive individuals criminally responsible for any risk of transmission, including from mother to child. Minister of Human Development, Dolores Balderamos Garcia, supports the repeal of the Bill, pointing to conflicts it poses with human rights norms. She also pointed to the implications of the legislation, which caters to stigma and discrimination. The Minister of Health, Kevin Bernard, made the presentation in the House on that matter.


Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness

“Punitive laws are not the most effective way to combat this epidemic. They can, in fact, pose significant barriers to HIV prevention, treatment, and care. By criminalizing the transmission of HIV AIDS, we run the risk of driving the disease underground, discouraging those at risk from seeking testing, counseling, and treatment for fear of legal reprisal. Therefore, Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Health and Wellness firmly believes that the battle against HIV AIDS should not be fought in courtroom, but in our communities, our hospitals and our clinics. We should focus our efforts on education, prevention, care and support rather than punishment. We should aim to reduce the stigma and discrimination that surrounds this disease to encourage more people to get tested, to know their status, and to seek treatment. And so, definitely, Madam Speaker, the repeal of this section, 46A and 73A, is a step towards a more compassionate, more effective approach to addressing HIV AIDS.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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