UNAIDS urges repeal of Sanitary Decree in Greece

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS expressed concern on Wednesday over Greece's reintroduction of a Sanitary Decree that could infringe on human rights and prevent people from getting access to HIV services.

The Sanitary Decree, which was first introduced in April 2012, puts specific control and screening measures into place against drug users, migrants and sex workers. After the decree was introduced, a number of sex workers were arrested, detained, tested for HIV and prosecuted. Their photographs were then published publicly.

The decree was repealed in April, but the Greek government reintroduced the decree in June. UNAIDS expressed deep concern that the reintroduction of the bill with the same provisions could justify actions in violation of human rights.

UNAIDS said there is no evidence that punitive approaches, especially measures that single out members of key populations, are effective in an HIV response. On the contrary, the measures can deter people most affected by HIV from getting access to HIV prevention and care services.

UNAIDS urged Greek authorities to repeal the Sanitary Decree and start dialogue with civil society organizations, health experts and other stakeholders to develop evidence-informed and rights-based regulations for public health. UNAIDS said all individuals, including drug users, migrants, asylum-seekers and sex workers and their clients should have protection against discrimination.