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Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Commitment to the HIV Response Is a Commitment to Human Rights

By Karen Ocamb -

Lest we close out World AIDS Day without mentioning what’s happening with the AIDS crisis around the world – I offer this glimpse of the work of the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+), onpassed by my friend Sean Strub, founder of POZ Magazine.  The situation with the Global Fund is actually pretty complicated – including protests in Los Angeles and Washington DC on Tuesday organized by AIDS Healthcare Foundation outside the Chinese Consulate and Embassy demanding that China pay their fair share of the Global AIDS Fund. The piece below from GNP+’s Martin Stolk is about the interconnection between human rights and treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. The bold emphasis is mine.
A Commitment to the HIV Response Is a Commitment to Human Rights
From Martin Stolk (GNP+)
The Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) and the World AIDS Campaign say that to ensure continued success in the HIV response, policies and programmes must respect and protect the human rights of those most affected by HIV. The 2010 Global Update on the AIDS Epidemic by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) suggests that significant progress has been made in advancing access to HIV prevention, treatment, support and care over the past ten years, but notes that human rights approaches are crucial to further progress.
GNP+ and World AIDS Campaign call on governments to ensure enabling environments for people living with HIV and key populations. In an enabling environment, policies and programmes do not oppress, manage, control or abuse but rather provide protective laws to ensure non-discrimination, reduce stigma, and change harmful gender norms. Such policies and laws must support people living with HIV to achieve positive health, dignity and prevention – not through fear, but through empowerment and with dignity.
Increased access to treatment has enabled millions of people to lead longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Providing treatment, in combination with HIV prevention, support and care programmes is currently contributing to the epidemic leveling off. The UNAIDS report shows that in 2009 the pace of new infections had declined by almost 20% compared to 1999, but still outpaces treatment success by two to one. Though infection rates have declined significantly in South Africa and Zambia – among others – HIV incidence continues to grow in other parts of the world, notably Eastern Europe.
Political commitment and the financial support of governments and donors are essential, but will miss their goals without legal protections for people living with HIV – and the populations that are most affected – and policy environments free of stigma and discrimination. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reported to the UN General Assembly that in many countries where human rights are not recognized and enforced, access to essential HIV information, prevention tools, treatment and services is restricted.
“Reports from Eastern Europe highlight that HIV drug stock outs are becoming more frequent (1). Without treatment people living with HIV are not able to maintain their health and wellbeing, nor to care for their partners and families,” says Kevin Moody, International Coordinator and CEO of GNP+. “People living with HIV have the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Any commitment to the HIV response must be a commitment to human rights.”
Failure to protect the rights of sex workers, women, young people, people who use drugs or those in same sex relations significantly hampers our efforts to meet public health goals,” says Marcel van Soest, Executive Director of the World AIDS Campaign. “Where human rights are officially recognized as a priority and protected, people living with HIV and key populations are accessing necessary treatment, prevention, support and care services”.
The Global Fund is one of the agencies that has supported prevention, treatment, care and support needs of millions of people around the world. Investment into the Global Fund and HIV in general has however been falling behind (2): in October 2010 not even half of the needed USD 20 billion for the period 2011-2013 had been pledged (3). Based on this, the reality on the ground will be that people in need of treatment will be turned away at hospitals and treatment centers. Lowering the level of health support to people living with HIV now would be a gross violation of human rights. GNP+ and World AIDS Campaign call on governments to replenish the Global Fund to Fight HIV, TB and Malaria. Now more than ever we need to recognize peoples’ human rights.
The Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) is a global network for and by people living with HIV. GNP+ advocates to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV. The central theme for the work of GNP+ is Reclaiming Our Lives! GNP+ programmes are organised under four platforms of action: Empowerment; Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention; Human Rights; and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
The World AIDS Campaign’s goal is to ensure that governments and policy makers meet the HIV targets they set, the commitments they made, and mobilise the necessary resources for a world where people do not die of AIDS and opportunistic infections like TB. At the heart of the global commitment is the publicly stated ambition of Universal Access by 2010 – enabling everyone to have non-discriminatory and non-judgmental access to adequate HIV prevention, treatment, care and support
For more information about this news release: Please contact GNP+ (Martin Stolk, Communications officer, by email or World AIDS Campaign Denis Burke, Chief Producer Media and Communications –

(1) The website from the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ITPCru) reports stockouts in Ulyanovsk, Samara, Arkhangelsk, the Moscow Oblast, Vladimir, Kaliningrad, Saratov and other regions.
(2) International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (2010). Missing the Target 8: Rationing Funds, Risking Lives. Pp. 9. (3) Global Fund Third Voluntary Replenishment, 2011-2013. Pledges for 2011 – 2013 at 5 October 2010.


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