A map of maps for AIDS activists

KartographWondering which countries have which kinds of laws and policies affecting HIV and key populations? You can find out on these maps.

Basic HIV data: On this site, UNAIDS reports on the data it collects from countries on their progress on global HIV indicators.

The map shows country-by-country coverage of HIV services for sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs, for example. This is searchable, easy to use, with data presented in both maps and tables. If you’re not sure what the shorthand used to describe the indicators really means, the indicators are defined in detail in this guide.
Note that the map includes data on laws and policies, but it’s not really much use for that — the indicators used are too broad and the data too uneven (Try selecting “discriminatory attitudes” — only about 20 countries turn up).

But don’t get too attached to all this, as UNAIDS is about to produce new indicators to track progress on its 2016-21 strategy, and some things may change.

Criminalization of HIV transmission – This map from AIDS Free World shows which countries have, or are trying to, criminalize HIV transmission. It’s color-coded and you can zoom in and out if you have a good idea of which countries you’re looking for on the map, but there’s no table to search by name. This map from GNP+ also tracks the same subject, but with more specific information on each country.

It would be nice to have a map showing which countries have anti-discrimination laws on the books – I haven’t found one of those yet, but will update this is someone shares (or creates) one.

Sex work law map: A nifty new tool, from the Institute of Development Studies, maps 11 different categories of laws and policies affecting sex workers. It’s is easy to search in multiple different ways, using filters, and it’s nice that the types of laws are categorized, allowing for more nuance in search results.

Criminalization of homosexuality: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association (ILGA) publishes an annual report on criminalization of same-sex relationships that is widely cited. Their map is online here. The map shows which countries criminalize male-to-male, female-to-female relationships, adoption, and age of consent laws. Depending on which laws you click on, the map changes color. However, you can’t search by multiple criteria at once, and the map is confusingly labeled in some ways – clicking on “age of consent” gives you a map that just says “yes”, “no”, “only in some areas” and “no data” — it’s not too clear what that means.

Laws affecting people who use drugs: Harm Reduction International has published this map of harm reduction policies, showing which countries have policies on opioid substitution therapy, needle exchange programs, safe injecting sites, and more. (Yes, the print is teeny. It’s much easier to read if you use full-screen mode.)

It would be nice if the map also included info on which countries criminalize drug use, and which — for instance, China, Vietnam and others — use compulsory drug detention centers, in contrast with their on-the-books commitments to harm reduction policies. The word is that UNODC and others are working on gathering that data… we hope… meanwhile, Release, a UK NGO, has published this report on decrim policies, by country.

In an ideal world, someone would systematically gather all this data and publish it in one place, updating it annually, and adding into it the recommendations made by UN human rights treaty bodies to countries, so that civil society groups could hold countries to account for making progress on human rights in the HIV response. The data could be correlated with poor performance on UNAIDS indicators, identifying for each country what needs to be done to create an enabling environment to ensure access to HIV services.  Wouldn’t that be cool? And even cooler if it added in data on gender-based violence, migrants, prisoners, TB, hepatitis, drug pricing…

Until that day comes, we’ll continue to toggle back and forth between these web sites, which do make for handy resources.

1 thought on “A map of maps for AIDS activists

  1. Pingback: More maps for health rights activists | Meg Davis

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