UN experts warns AIDS epidemic is still driven by human rights violations

Ahead of the high-level meeting on ending AIDS by 2030 (June 8-10)  experts urge governments to remove punitive laws policies and practices. 

Since the start of the HIV epidemic 78 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus, 35 million of which have died. During 2015 36.7 million people were living with HIV and 1.1 million died form AIDS-related illnesses.

Ahead of the High Level Meeting on ending AIDS by 2030, experts on the right of health Dainius P?ras; on extreme poverty, Philip Alston; and on violence against women Dubravka Šimonovic; and the Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Discrimination against women, Frances Raday published a joint statement.

The UN independent experts warn the epidemic is still being driven by human rights violations. They urge governments to remove punitive laws, policies and practices.

 “Such laws and practices impede, and sometimes altogether bar, certain populations from accessing information, as well as health goods and services that are critical to the prevention, treatment, and care of HIV,” they say in a joint statement.

For example, third party authorization to access health services stop many adolescents from seeking sexual and reproductive health information. This can ultimately lead to higher levels of unsafe abortion, unwanted pregnancies and HIV infections.

"I have had the privilege of spending time with people engaged in the AIDS response, including people living with HIV. I have learned about their difficulties in getting access to the antiretroviral medicines that keep them alive and about the fear and stigma they live with each day," said UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon in a report.

He says the AIDS response must be fast-track and multisectoral as all of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We have an historic opportunity not to be missed: to put an end to AIDS within our lifetimes. The international community has made great progress in the fight to end HIV/AIDS, but it has been uneven. The present challenge is to reach the many who are still being left behind,” said the experts.

Populations which continue to be left out include drug addicts who are 24 times more likely to acquire HIV; women in prostitution, who are 10 more likely to acquire the virus; homosexual men, who are 24 times more likely to acquire HIV than adults in general; transgender people who are 18 times more likely to acquire HIV and prisoners who are five times more likely to get infected.

Health centers are among the most frequent environments where people are subjects of HIV related stigma, discrimination and even violence, according to the evidence. They can suffer from denial of the health care, barriers in service provisions and extreme violations of autonomy and bodily integrity leading to forced abortion and even sterilizations.

East and southern Africa are the most affected regions. In 2015 there were 19 million people living with HIV, with women accounting for more than half of the total number. The region has 46% of the global total new HIV infections.

Latin America and the Caribbean had 2 million people living with HIV in 2015, with 100,000 being newly infected. Treatment coverage in the region was 55% in 2015 among all the people living with HIV.

Regarding investments, at the end of 2014 $19.2 billion dollars were invested in the AIDS response in low and middle income countries. According to recent updated UNAIDS data, it estimates that $26.2 billion dollars will be required for AIDS response by 2020 and $23.9 billion by 2030.

The high level meeting on ending AIDS by 2030 is taking place in New York from June 8-10 and its considered as the opportunity to rally global commitment for ending AIDS.

LatinAmerican Post 

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