ACHIEVE to address access to legal services of PLHIVs to fight stigma and discrimination

With assistance from Levi Strauss Foundation, Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc. is conducting a review to assess the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 (RA 8504, particularly in providing people living with HIV (PLHIV) with sufficient redress or protection from discrimination. The review aims to determine how PLHIV use the law to seek redress for their grievances and to determine whether the conditions defined by the law are enabling for them. The review also aims to assess whether there are mechanisms in place that facilitate access to legal redress.

The review consists of the following methods: conduct of a survey among PLHIV who have experienced discrimination; conduct of four focus group discussions on key issues arising from the survey; conduct of case studies; and, key informant interviews. Ten PLHIV were trained and engaged as researchers to assist in the conduct of the survey and in encoding the survey results.
The survey was administered to 103 PLHIV respondents who had earlier stated having experienced discrimination (based on the Stigma Index survey conducted by Pinoy Plus Association). Eight out of 10 (82 per cent) respondents experienced “strong to serious” discrimination, which they experienced from a family member or from a medical staff in a health service facility. Despite experiencing discrimination, less than half sought help from relevant government agencies, HIV AIDS Core Team (HACT) in hospitals, NGOs and the PLHIV support groups. Furthermore, only five individuals sought legal redress. The major hindrances that hamper PLHIV in filing complaints include fear of disclosure and discrimination, financial constraint, and lack of access to free legal services. This study is envisaged to generate information on how make the law more enabling for PLHIV to access legal redress and to identify mechanisms that need to be established in order to facilitate this access.

ACHIEVE will be launching the results of the review on December 2010.