HIV/AIDS: Disability, HIV find common ground

HIV/AIDS: Disability, HIV find common ground

People living with disabilities are known to be just as, if not more, at risk of contracting HIV as non-disabled people, but there is little specific data or programming that reflects this reality on a global scale.

More than 600 million people - 10 percent of the global population - live with disabilities, and 80 percent of them live in developing countries. This population often struggles to gain access to sex education and health services, including HIV prevention and education materials.

Yet people with disabilities engage in the same sexual behaviours that the general population does, according to a landmark 2004 Yale University/World Bank report entitled HIV/AIDS and Individuals with Disability. Additionally, women with disabilities are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and rape than non-disabled women.

Eighty-seven percent of disability advocates, programmes and institutions from 57 countries consider HIV/AIDS "of immediate concern" to the disabled populations they serve, the report showed.

But indications that speak to the impact HIV/AIDS has on the disabled community on a global scale largely stop there.