European Parliament votes for rights-based AIDS response

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European Parliament votes for rights-based AIDS response

14 July 2010

20100708_Ashton_200Catherine Ashton, Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

In the lead up to the 2010 International AIDS Conference in Vienna, the European Parliament has voted on a Motion for a Resolution on a rights-based approach to the EU's response to HIV. Referring to the UNAIDS Outcome Framework 2009-2011, the Resolution strongly supports the Joint Programme's position on human rights issues such as decriminalization of sexual transmission, injecting drug users and on men who have sex with men.

Passed by an overwhelming majority of members on 8 July 2010, the Resolution also asks EU member states to meet their commitments as well as to step up efforts in addressing HIV as a global public health priority with human rights as central to its prevention, treatment, care and support, including in EU development cooperation. The XVIII International AIDS Conference which starts in Vienna on 18 July 2010 will run under the theme of human rights: ‘Rights Here, Right Now.’

Vice-President and High Representative of the European Union, Ms Catherine Ashton, made a strong statement to the Members of the Parliament in support of the Resolution: “I am confident that the Vienna Conference will help us to move forward in enforcing the rights of people to be protected against avoidable HIV infections and in gaining access to the evidence-based prevention and highly efficient treatment that so many honourable Members have referred to this evening.”

She also gave a personal commitment to ensure its effective implementation by the European Commission, saying, “I want to assure you as well that we will maintain and increase our dedication to defending these rights inside Europe, but also as part of our relations with third countries whether they are close to our borders or on other continents.

The Resolution calls on the European Commission and the Council to promote efforts to decriminalise HIV transmission and exposure and to support harm reduction programmes for prisoners and injecting drug users.

Recognizing that addressing women’s needs was an essential measure for curbing the epidemic, the Resolution also calls for expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care programmes.

It also called for member states to promote best policies and practices in the political dialogue at global and country-level regarding rights-based responses to HIV and calls on the Commission and the Council to work with UNAIDS and other partners to improve indicators for measuring progress at global, national and at programmatic level to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination, including indicators specific to key populations.

UNAIDS urges the removal of all punitive laws, policies, practices, stigma and discrimination that block effective responses to AIDS including in the areas of sex work, travel restrictions, homophobia and criminalization of HIV transmission.
With an estimated 33.4 million people living with HIV globally and 2.7 million newly infected in 2008, countries continue to rank AIDS high on the list of the most important issues facing the world.