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UN Human Rights Council releases panel discussion report on HIV

UN HRC: “Human rights programmes that have proved successful in addressing vulnerability to HIV, and in addressing barriers to accessing HIV treatment and health care services, need to be scaled up and adequately funded.”

The UN Human Rights Council released a panel discussion report on HIV, as it marked “a historic opportunity that could not be missed, to put an end to AIDS within our lifetimes.”

The report noted that while the international community had made “great progress in the fight to end HIV/AIDS, but much more needed to be done both individually and collectively.” This is because “progress to date had been uneven, and the current challenge was to reach the many who were still being left behind. Efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS had, to date, proved most effective when they were rights-based.”

The report added that “it was a matter of respect for human dignity that the HIV/AIDS response should, at all levels, be designed to tackle the stigma, discrimination and violence that continued to drive the spread of the epidemic.”

The panel stressed that “the world would not succeed in ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 without renewed commitments and efforts to address the legal and human rights barriers that made people vulnerable to HIV and blocked effective responses to the epidemic.”

Five salient points were highlighted by the report, i.e.:

(a) The AIDS epidemic is, today more than ever, characterized by stigma and discrimination. People living with HIV continue to face stigma and discrimination in all sectors, including within families and communities, at the workplace and in health-care settings. The people who are the most vulnerable to HIV, who include women and girls, sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, people who inject drugs and people in detention, face high levels of stigma and discrimination. Addressing stigma and discrimination in all aspects of life and society, including in health-care settings, is therefore the essential basis for ending AIDS by 2030.

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(b) Universal health coverage is fundamental to an effective HIV/AIDS response, and every person should have access to appropriate medical attention and services. Beyond simply expanding coverage, it is essential to bring about equitable access to health care for all. Rights-based health services are needed, in order to ensure the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of treatment without discrimination. Special approaches are needed to reach marginalized groups and other populations who are being left behind and who face greater barriers to accessing health care, and these groups should be enabled to participate in the design and implementation of policies to address HIV/AIDS.

(c) Access to medicines for all is essential to ending AIDS and to realizing the right to health. Scientific freedom, which has led to advancements in health technologies, comes with the associated right for everyone to be able to enjoy its benefits and applications. Intellectual property rights must not be allowed to take precedence over public health and over the right of all persons living with HIV/AIDS to have access to life-saving medicines. As the tools for ending AIDS are available, they must be made accessible to all those who are in need of treatment. The human right to health should take precedence over profit, and it is crucial that transformative global cooperation be accelerated on the basis of the common aim of enabling access to medicines for all.

(d) It is essential to maintain efforts to review and reform laws, policies and practices that adversely affect the successful, effective and equitable delivery of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes to people living with HIV and other key populations, including the laws that criminalize, inter alia, drug users, same-sex relations, sex workers, and HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission.

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(e) Human rights programmes that have proved successful in addressing vulnerability to HIV, and in addressing barriers to accessing HIV treatment and health care services, need to be scaled up and adequately funded. This should include programmes aimed at eliminating stigma and discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV and against their families, including by sensitizing the police and judges, training health-care workers in non-discrimination, confidentiality and informed consent, supporting national human rights learning campaigns, legal literacy and legal services, and monitoring the impact of the legal environment on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

The report may be checked HERE.

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