Workshop to include people with disabilities in HIV policy
23 July 2012
According to the World Bank and WHO, about 1 billion people—or 15% of the world’s population—live with some kind of disability. The increase in the number of people with disabilities is in proportion with the increase in violence, traffic accidents, chronic diseases, and ageing.
At the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, participants at a skills-building workshop titled “HIV Policy and National Programming: How to Include the World’s Largest Minority?” urged stakeholders to address disability within AIDS policy and programming.
Using tools such as a disability-inclusive National Strategic Plans framework and examples of good practice, the workshop featured high-level speakers from UNAIDS, USAID, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Botswana, as well as facilitators from UNICEF, the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR) and the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA).
The workshop discussed the importance of including people with disabilities in the development of national strategic plans; upholding their human rights and ensuring that countries have policies that promote zero tolerance for discrimination on the basis of disability.
It also urged national HIV responses to reflect the recommendations set out in the 2007 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention obliges states to provide access to sexual and reproductive health including HIV information and services for all persons with disabilities.
Participants highlighted the need to build the capacity of person with disabilities to advocate on their own behalf and be an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation.
People at Risk
Persons with disabilities experience all of the risk factors associated with HIV, and are often at increased risk because of poverty, severely limited access to education and healthcare, lack of information and resources, lack of legal protection, increased risk of violence and rape, vulnerability to substance abuse, and stigma.
At the global level, UNAIDS is committed to achieve the 2011 Political Declaration targets and commitments, which for the first time recognize the need to take into account the rights of persons with disabilities in the response to AIDS
UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director; Management and Governance, Jan Beagle
Although there is growing international attention for the rights of people with disabilities, governments and policymakers rarely consider disability issues when formulating their HIV strategic plans.
UNAIDS and Disability
UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director; Management and Governance, Jan Beagle reiterated UNAIDS commitment to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for people with disabilities through their full integration in all aspects of the HIV response.
“At the global level, UNAIDS is committed to achieve the 2011 Political Declaration targets and commitments, which for the first time recognize the need to take into account the rights of persons with disabilities in the response to AIDS—in particular with regard to health, education, accessibility and information,” said Ms Beagle.
She also highlighted that UNAIDS is developing its own Strategy for Integrating Disability into AIDS Programmes—a tool which offers a guide for UNAIDS and partners to develop and review national strategic plans across the globe in terms of their disability-inclusiveness.