UNAIDS Viet Nam Speech at Law & HIV Satellite, Health, Development, Human Rights Conference 28/10/09

Good evening colleagues, panellists and viewers from afar. This week we are discussing many issues critical to the health and dignity of people and nations. This evening’s panel is an opportunity for us to look deeply at one such issue: law and HIV. 

There is no other infection I can think of – not since the Black Plague in the Middle Ages or the cholera epidemics of the 19th century – that has generated such unfounded fear and, as a result of that fear, stigma, discrimination, and draconian laws and regulations that not only violate the rights of people living with and affected by HIV, but assist in the virus’s spread, rather than help to contain it. In some nations, people at risk for HIV are blocked from accessing the services and materials that could keep them safe; things like condoms and clean needles. Many nations still allow forced testing and disclosure of HIV status without consent. Disturbingly, people living with HIV are forbidden to enter some countries and the criminalisation of HIV is a growing global trend. 

Here in Viet Nam, we are exceedingly fortunate to have the rights-based Law on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, passed in 2006 and implemented in 2007. This, along with its subsequent implementing decrees, is one of the most progressive HIV-related laws in the region. The existence of a law on paper, however, does not necessarily mean the existence of that law in people’s daily lives. 

Viet Nam has been working hard to implement the Law on HIV and we are very fortunate to welcome high level government partners to our panel this evening. I am sure that we will all benefit from hearing about and discussing their experiences and insights.

Once again, I warmly welcome all those present and those watching from a distance. I am sure you join me in looking forward to a lively and fruitful discussion.

Thank you – and as we say in Viet Nam, ‘chuc suc khoe!’


Green One UN House, 304 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam