Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Protect human rights, prevent HIV


A group of sex workers in Cambodia © Eugenie Dolberg

As stigma and discrimination and unsupportive policy and legal environments continue to undermine the scale up of effective, evidence based interventions to address HIV, the Alliance is holding a high profile reception at AIDS2012 to highlight the importance of human rights in an effective HIV response.

People living with HIV and those most at risk of HIV need quick and easy access to HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention and care services.  But how can we ensure that the human rights of key groups are protected, and expand their access to services?

In many countries around the world, punitive laws, law enforcement practices and a lack of respect for human rights make it more difficult for HIV programmes to reach sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people and people who use drugs.

Leadership from governments and civil society is required to reverse this situation and dialogue is needed between donors and implementing partners to ensure that development aid works effectively – without being perceived as imposing a Western agenda.

Christine Stegling, Senior Adviser on Human Rights said: “All communities have the right to equal access to high quality HIV services, particularly those most marginalised such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs.  All states must respect, protect and promote the human rights of all in society.”

US and UK to co-host reception

At the High Level Meeting on AIDS in 2011 the international community committed to scaling up the global response to HIV with a greater focus on human rights. Since then we have seen and welcomed strong statements from President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell amongst others reinforcing commitment to promoting the human rights of marginalised groups. In particular, Secretary Clinton made remarks on LGBT rights in recognition of International Human Rights Day in December in Geneva.  She described it as “one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time.”

In this context we are very pleased that the US and UK Government will be co-hosting a reception for the Alliance at AIDS 2012 to acknowledge the leadership the Alliance has shown over the past 20 years in scaling up human rights based community response to HIV in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Sir Peter Westmacott, British Ambassador to the United States stated “The UK Government greatly values the role the Alliance and its many partners continue to play in supporting community programmes that reach the most marginalised.  I am very glad to be able to host this reception as a gesture of our appreciation of the contribution that the Alliance makes to the global response to HIV.”

The event will be hosted by The Right Hon. Lord Fowler, the Chair of the House of Lords’ Select Committee on HIV, and The Hon. Daniel Baer, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Guests at this reception will hear testimonies from Alliance partners outlining the challenges they face in reaching marginalised people in their communities, from community leaders who represent those most at risk of HIV and examples from countries which have successfully built coalitions to help create a more enabling environment for vulnerable groups. 

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