1-U=U at government/national level
No information available.
2-Sensitization/ Training of PLHIVs, community advocates, service providers and/or CBOs
No information available.
3-Incorporating U=U messages in relevant community outreach, education info and social media campaigns
No information available.
3-Country Challenges and Barriers
Bhutan faces numerous challenges especially to reach most-at-risk people and to get people come forward to talk about HIV and the mode of infection. There are also very few NGOs in Bhutan working specifically to fight HIV/AIDs, and also the existing NGOs lack the capacity.
Bhutan also faces major challenge in bringing people living with AIDS to work together due to the social stigma. There is also a serious shortage of manpower at all levels, and available staff is overstretched. A skill in areas like the necessary technical expertise is mostly not available. The other major challenges are the rugged terrain and distances that need to be travelled to reach many of the regions are costly and difficult to provide the necessary direction and support.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) considers gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners and other incarcerated people as the main key population groups that are particularly vulnerable to HIV. Unfortunately, Bhutan’s regulatory and/or legal environment is such that it not only poses barriers for members of these groups access services, but also create barriers for formulation of HIVST policies. Details are as follows:
- Section 410 of Bhutan’s Penal Code makes knowing or intentional transmission of disease dangerous to life punishable. This offence is considered to be a fourth-degree felony where the dangerous disease has a high likelihood of causing death.
- Transgender people are not recognised as either male, female or as an alternative gender identity, and are not extended the fundamental rights available to all people under the Constitution, including the right to equality under Article 7(15).
- The law criminalizes men who have sex with men transgender people through Section 213 of the Penal Code, which punishes “unnatural sex”, “sodomy”, and “any other sexual conduct that is against the order of nature.” This law also Bhutan imposes prison terms of up to 14 years for homosexuality. They can be discriminated against while seeking health services where they are denied opportunities when their sexual orientation becomes known and is the basis of differential treatment.
- Drug use and possession is criminalized under the Penal Code and the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act of Bhutan 2015. Narcotics laws are significant in the HIV context since criminalisation of people who use drugs accentuates the stigma and discrimination suffered by them.
- Prostitution and related activities are crimes under the Penal Code. The Constitution requires that the State endeavor to eliminate prostitution which is considered a form of exploitation. This approach is also reflected in Bhutan’s international and regional obligations.
Illegality of abortion with data suggesting that women are forced to opt for unhygienic, dangerous methods settings; women living with HIV undergoing unsafe abortions are a higher risk for complications than other women.
- https://kuenselonline.com/, various articles and news releases
- Regional Expert Group Meeting: Reviewing Implementation of Commitments from the Asia Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS beyond 2015; Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 2018 (https://www.unescap.org/events/asia-pacific-regional-expert-group-meeting-reviewing-implementation-commitments-asia-pacific)
- HIV Self-Testing Strategic Framework A Guide For Planning, Introducing And Scaling Up, WHO, October 2018 (https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/275521/9789241514859-eng.pdf)
- HIV and AIDS in Asia & The Pacific: Regional Overview (https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/asia-pacific/overview#HIV_testing_and_counselling_(HTC)_in_Asi)
- WHO, Unitaid, and UNAIDS meeting on HIV self-testing and innovative testing approaches in Asia and the Pacific Region: Country progress and plans (December 2020)
- Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Ministry of Health (Bhutan). Bhutan Country Progress Report on the HIV Response 2015. Thimpu, Bhutan: Ministry of Health (Bhutan), 2015 (https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/country/documents/BTN_narrative_report_2014.pdf)
- UNAIDS Data 2020 (https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/2020_aids-data-book_en.pdf)
- Asia-Pacific Regional Expert Group Meeting on Reviewing Implementation of Commitments from the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV AIDS Beyond 2015, ESCAP, 2018 (https://www.unescap.org/events/asia-pacific-regional-expert-group-meeting-reviewing-implementation-commitments-asia-pacific)
- WHO and partners urge countries to fast-track implementation and scale-up of HIV self-testing and other innovative HIV testing approaches in Asia and the Pacific, March 2021 (https://www.who.int/news/item/16-03-2021-who-and-partners-urge-countries-to-fast-track-implementation-and-scale-up-of-hiv-self-testing-and-other-innovative-hiv-testing-approaches-in-asia-and-the-pacific)
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