2003-2010

02 April 2005
Discrimination and Access to Care Seminar

On Saturday 2 April 2005 Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) met with over 40 HIV/AIDS activists, policy makers, legal professionals, academics, representatives of the uniformed forces, the media and members of the public at the President Hotel to discuss the issue of Discrimination and Access to Health Care in relation to Botswana’s  diverse sexual identities.

BONELA has noted with great concern a growing de-sexualisation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country. In other words many of our HIV/AIDS programmes do not address sexuality as a fundamental part of their work despite knowing that in Botswana HIV is mainly transmitted through sexual activities. This makes it essential to include everyone - including those that live non heterosexual lives- in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country and the workshop was a way of opening debate on such issues.

Workshop participants noted that there are misconceptions about existing laws criminalizing same-sex-sexual activity in Botswana. Legal practitioners emphasized that it is the so called acts against the order of nature that are illegal, while openly discussing non-heterosexual sexual identities and including those in sexual health programmes is not punishable by Botswana laws. However, participants called for the introduction of private morality as a concept in local laws to ensure the non-discrimination of  people with non-heterosexual sexual identities.

The fact that Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials are focused on people with heterosexual identities and ignore those with other existing sexual identities was noted with great concern. This prevents people from these communities from accessing much needed relevant health information and ultimately may lead to risky sexual behavior.

The workshop concluded with calls for research to assess the needs and situation of people who lead non heterosexual lives so that well documented information is available to health care providers, NGO’s and policy makers. The Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual community of Botswana was encouraged to openly advocate for their rights. Health care providers and service NGO’s agreed that an open door policy is needed to reach the diverse communities of Botswana, and providing health care for all will eventually result in no new infections in the year 2016.

For more information contact BONELA on Tel: 393 2516, Fax: 393 2517, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

31 January 2005
Response to Debswana cutting ARV supply to former employees

Last week there were reports in the media that DEBSWANA has terminated the supply of Anti-retroviral drugs to some of the 461 workers the company dismissed for participating in an illegal strike last year. DEBSWANA says it has decided to do this because their ARV enrolment programme is a benefit exclusive to DEBSWANA employees.

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) believes that while DEBSWANA has the right to cut the ARV treatment of recently dismissed employees, the company should have made sure that the people are now on the government ARV programme (MASA). The cutting of the ARV treatment should have been a gradual process, where they should have made sure that each former employee is now on the government programme.

It is essential that the taking of the ARV drugs not be disrupted as this can have serious consequences for not only the individual patient but also for society at large. For the individual patient it is very important to take the right combination of ARV drugs every day, at the right time and with or without food. Failing to do this could make the patient develop new strands of HIV and become resistant to the antiretroviral drugs.

If individuals stop their ARV treatment, they are likely to eventually develop opportunistic infections, in which case their families and the already overburdened health care system will have to take care of them. Also, the development and potential transmission of ARV resistant strands of HIV could have devastating effects for the public.

DEBSWANA should have contacted all people concerned to make arrangements for continued treatment as enrolling and starting the government ARV programme is likely to take time and stopping abruptly the ARV treatment could have disastrous consequences.

For more information contact BONELA on Tel: 393 2516, Fax: 393 2517, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

25 February 2004
Strategic Plan of Ethics, Law and Human Rights Sector to be addressed

On February 26th senior government officials, Members of Parliament, legal professionals and             representatives of civil society will meet to discuss a human rights approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

This group will be joined by the Honourable Warren Allmand, an esteemed Canadian academic who served his country as a Member of Parliament for more than 30 years. Mr. Allmand has been active on human rights issues throughout his career and was the President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development from 1997 to 2002.

The meeting will address the Strategic Plan of the Ethics, Law and Human Rights Sector of the National AIDS Council (NAC) and will include stakeholders as well as Sector members. The meeting aims to bring together involved parties to examine and implement a legal, ethical and human rights approach to HIV/AIDS.  It will take place from 8 am to 5pm at the Hotel Crystal Palace.

In Botswana people infected by and affected by HIV continue to experience discrimination in a number of areas of life including employment, housing, and education. The Ethics, Law and Human Rights Sector aims to be the leading advocate for the effective integration of ethical, legal and human rights issues into all sector reponses to HIV/AIDS in an endeavour to create an enabling environment that conforms to international standards.

For any clarifications contact:
Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA)
Tel: 393 2516
Fax: 393 2517
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

25 March 2004
Botswana Delegation that traveled to PATAM

At a recent Pan African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM) Meeting that took place from the March 3rd to 5th in Harare, participants agreed on strategies for the rapid scaling up of access to anti-retroviral treatment in Southern Africa.

The meeting combined treatment and human rights activists, physicians and People Living with HIV from the SADC region, including a delegation of six representatives from Botswana who traveled under the auspices of the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA). While the public ARV programme is well underway in Botswana the general public, including many People Living with HIV, remain ignorant with regards to the details of the life prolonging medication prescribed as part of the programme.

The Botswana delegation therefore commits itself to initiate a treatment literacy campaign to increase knowledge of HIV treatment in cooperation with relevant institutions and organisations. At the same time it is crucial to support and further develop the existing regulatory framework and capacity in order to access safe anti-retroviral drugs at the lowest possible price.

BONELA and her partners therefore welcome the up-coming meeting on fixed-dose combination drug products that is co-hosted by the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, SADC, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services which will take place on 29th and 30th of March 2004 in Gaborone.

The discussion of fixed-dose combination drugs as an integral part of ARV therapy in Southern Africa is timely as these drugs allow for simplified AIDS treatment at low cost to the public health system. We support such therapy strategies as part of realizing the World Health Organisation’s goal of 3 million people on ARV treatment by 2005.

For any clarifications contact:
Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA)
Tel: 393 2516
Fax: 393 2517
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

10 February 2004
Legislation to Prohibit Pre-Employment HIV Testing is Needed

“Botswana urgently needs legislation to prohibit employers from testing prospective employees for HIV” the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) said today. The organisation noted that although the National Policy on HIV/AIDS states that pre-employment HIV testing is unecessary and should not be conducted, this policy is neither binding on employers nor legally enforceable.

The need for legislation in this area was highlighted by a case which came before the Court of Appeal last week (I.C. Case No. 35, 2003, Civil Appeal No. 37, 2003).  An HIV-positive man was offered employment as a security guard with the Botswana Building Society (BBS). He passed his pre-employment medical examination. Nineteen days later the employee was informed he was further required to undergo an HIV test.  He tested positive and received his test results from BBS enclosed with a letter of termination.

While the Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal disagreed on whether the HIV test formed part of the pre-employment medical examination, judges in both courts noted the problematic lack of legislation in this area. The Court of Appeal commented that the National Policy has “never been translated into law and [has] no statutory authority.” Judge Legwaila, Judge President of the Industrial Court noted that in this case:

“The Applicant lost his employment because of an indiscriminate policy of the employer who took advantage of the absence of restraining legislative instruments. It was not that at that point in time the Applicant was found to be incapacitated but simply because he was HIV positive. This is not the type of prejudice that can be left to the courts to tackle.”

BONELA supports Judge Legwaila's plea for legislation to prohibit pre-employment HIV testing and HIV-based discrimination in the workplace. The organisation has worked with unions, NGOs, government departments and representatives of the private sector to draft a policy framework on HIV/AIDS and employment identifying key principles to be included in future legislation. BONELA also continues to work with key stakeholders towards the development and implementation of legislation protecting the rights of people living with HIV in the workplace.

For any clarifications contact:
Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA)
Tel: 393 2516
Fax: 393 2517

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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