The government of Botswana has embraced both the drive towards accelerating universal access to HIV and AIDS services as well as the concept to target populations most at risk of HIV infection in order to arrest the rate of new infections. Inherent in this approach are strong critical and programme enablers one of which is an enabling legal environment and improved policy environment. Thus addressing legal barriers is a key part of achieving goals and objectives of stopping new infections and improving treatment outcomes.
Key activities under the module include conducting a legal, policy environment assessment, and law reform therefrom. Removing legal barriers is of the notion that meaningful participation by service users in uptake of services will only be possible if we address the issue of stigma and discrimination. A number of activities have been proposed to address the issue of stigma and discrimination including engaging, strengthening and building capacity of stigmatised individuals and groups, e.g., through skills-building, legal services, “know your rights” campaigns, counselling, training and social mobilization as well as providing training on non-discrimination for health care.
Many issues relating to stigma and discrimination and human rights violations in the work place are also being addressed through this Project such as employees being dismissed from their jobs for their perceived or actual HIV status and employees being denied time of work to attend to their medical needs at the clinic on the basis that ‘they take too much time off work’.
In addition; training programmes have been designed and are being conducted with the Police force, judges and health care workers. Specifically these facilitates for a ‘Rights based approach’’ in providing services and focuses on human rights (including Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights-SRHR), legal literacy, discrimination addressing harmful gender norms and law enforcement agencies like the police, (including Dikgosi from traditional court structures). Furthermore, there are seminars for judicial officers on stigma and discrimination reduction being conducted to dialogue on the issues in an effort to remove any legal barriers to accessing care and support for all clients.