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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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Working Paper

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This report documents the ongoing stigma and discrimination of women living with HIV in Namibia, building on prior findings and investigations on the subject, such as the 2008 research conducted by the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW) and the Namibian Women’s Health Network (NWHN). The report, based upon both desk research and a field mission, examines the human rights situation related to sexual and reproductive health of women living with HIV, including the gravity and ongoing nature of forced and coerced sterilizations in Namibia. The report also provides evidence of violations of informed consent in the context of HIV testing, breaches of patient confidentiality, and denial of information to HIV positive patients. It further considers how persistent stereotypes and gender-based violence contribute to stigma and discrimination in this context. Finally, the report explores how all these issues are interrelated and mutually reinforce the prevention of equal treatment of women living with HIV in Namibia.

The report first outlines the general scope of the HIV epidemic and its feminized nature, as well as how the Government of Namibia has addressed the disease through its health and justice sectors. Next, the report documents incidents of human rights violations experienced by women living with HIV when they attempt to access sexual and reproductive health services. Special attention is paid to HIV testing, discrimination within health treatment facilities, and forced sterilizations. The report further explores the systemic cultural and structural challenges to the enjoyment of human rights faced by women living with HIV. Finally, the report analyzes these issues in light of national and international human rights obligations and concludes with remedial recommendations.

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