Published January, 2011

HIV Testing and Human Rights: Resources and Fact Sheets, Open Society Foundations (2011)

HIV testing is an important part of a comprehensive approach to HIV prevention and treatment, if it is provided in a way that respects basic human rights. In order to reap the benefits of HIV testing, individuals must freely consent to testing; counseling must be provided before and after testing, and test results must be kept confidential. Moreover, testing should always be linked to programs that provide people who test positive with treatment, care, and support. Governments, health care providers, and program implementers should create a supportive environment that protects people who are HIV-positive from stigma, discrimination, and other negative consequences.

However, there is growing evidence from several countries that pregnant women are being tested for HIV without their consent, adequate counseling, or links to services. Couples are forced to take HIV tests before being allowed to marry; and prisoners, people who use drugs, and sex workers are being forced by police to submit to HIV tests against their will.

Such HIV testing practices are taking place largely without any assessment of the human rights implications. To address these trends, the Open Society Foundations have supported researchers and civil society advocates to examine and document the impact of HIV testing policies and practices, and to advocate for methods that uphold human rights and improve health outcomes.

The publications look at UNAIDS and WHO guidance on HIV testing, as well as local and international laws, and provide information on the impact of HIV testing policies on women and marginalized groups.