Best Practices Regarding HIV and AIDS for People With Disabilities Handbook
In spite of the remarkable increase of global awareness
on HIV, there is still a huge amount of work to do to stop the AIDS epidemic.
Even though the spread of the epidemic may have stabilised in 2008 (2008 Report
on the global AIDS epidemic, UNAIDS), it has done so at a very high level of
HIV infections. Therefore, there is urgent need for more action to move towards
the 2010 UN target to achieve Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment,
care and support.
According to the World Health Organization 650 million
people or 10% of the world’s population have a disability and four out of every
five disabled persons live in developing countries (Disability and
Rehabilitation WHO Action Plan 2006-2011). Within every social group - class,
caste, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation – people with
disabilities are represented. In the context of HIV, they are also found within
every high risk group such as sex workers and their clients, injecting drug
users, men having sex with men, orphans and prisoners. People with disabilities
are therefore exposed to the same risk factors for HIV as every non-disabled
person. Moreover, due to their often marginalised and vulnerable position in
the community (e.g. lack of access to information, low literacy rate and
stigma), people with disabilities are at an even higher risk of contracting
Awareness of disability as a crosscutting issue in
development - and subsequently in the HIV response - is increasing. The
publication of the UNAIDS, WHO and OHCHR policy brief: DISABILITY and HIV
(April 2009) was a first milestone in this respect. Still, awareness of
exclusion of people with disabilities from HIV policies and programmes has not
yet reached the level that is needed to influence policymakers in the HIV
response sufficiently. Moreover, studies on this subject are limited and
concrete data on the contribution in numbers of disabled people to the high
levels of HIV infections are scarce.
This handbook aims to fill this gap. It aims to further
increase awareness of this subject, to share knowledge and to give examples of
best practices. It also invites to study the impact of the AIDS epidemic on
people with disabilities and it seeks to incite a wider action to achieve
universal access for people with disabilities to HIV prevention, treatment,
care and support. Without this action the Millennium Development Goal of
halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV by 2015 will not be met.
Expanding the response to the AIDS epidemic by including people with
disabilities is nothing less than adhering to the principles and standards of
human rights, in particular to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (December 2006).