Contested health law to be repealed

The Health Ministry is repealing a controversial legal provision that was issued three years ago “to curb the spread of infectious diseases” but was widely condemned for stigmatizing women with HIV, particularly prostitutes.

The decision is to be published in the Government Gazette in the coming days after a commitee of health experts deemed that the provision unfairly stigmatizes members of vulnerable social groups. The panel deemed that the change would not create a public health risk as the existing institutional framework provides for adequate inspections for communicable diseases.

It will be the second time Provision 39A is revoked. It was briefly repealed in May 2013 before being reinstated. The provision was introduced in April 2012 by then Health Minister Andreas Loverdos during tense pre-election campaigning and prompted vehement criticism after police rounded up hundreds of alleged prostitutes in Athens and subjected them to HIV tests.

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