Many of the successes in mitigating the causes and consequences of HIV have taken root where laws have been used to protect the human rights of the marginalized and disempowered. For example, in some countries anti-discrimination laws have helped people living with HIV keep their jobs and their homes and look after their families. Laws to protect confidentiality have contributed to increasing confidence in heath systems, encouraging people to learn their HIV status and to access HIV prevention and treatment. Legal guarantees of property and inheritance rights for women and girls have helped to mitigate the social and economic burdens of AIDS. Still in many places across the globe, the legal environment is presenting significant challenges for sustaining and scaling up effective HIV responses. In many countries, laws and policies continue to prevent access to life-saving HIV treatment. Every day people living with HIV and people most at risk, including sex workers, drug users, prisoners, men who have sex with men, and transgender people, suffer stigma, discrimination and violence. Laws and practices that discriminate against women or fail to protect their rights, including the right to be free from violence, make women particularly vulnerable to HIV.
The Global Commission on HIV and the Law interrogated the relationship between legal responses, human rights and HIV. The Commission focused on some of the most challenging legal and human rights issues in the context of HIV, including criminalisation of HIV transmission, behaviours and practices such as drug use, sex work, same-sex sexual relations, and issues of prisoners, migrants, children's rights, violence against women and access to treatment. The Global Commission on HIV and the Law also developed actionable, evidence-informed and human rights-based recommendations for effective HIV responses that protect and promote the human rights of people living with and most vulnerable to HIV.