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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Making it work: Integrating human rights into national HIV plans


Teacher, Maureen Mwanza, talking to pupils about sexual health rights in Chipata, Zambia © Alliance

Without a human rights-based approach, investments in HIV may not be effective or reach those most in need.

This is because social and legal barriers that stigmatise and criminalise people prevent them coming forward for HIV prevention, testing and treatment. This includes people living with HIV and those most at risk, such as sex workers, people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men.

To strengthen the human rights-based national response to HIV, the Alliance has been providing technical support to UNAIDS since 2011, to help national stakeholders integrate human rights programmes into National Strategic Plans for HIV (NSPs).  As part of the project three regional workshops were held for: East and Southern Africa; the Middle East and North Africa; and the Asia/Pacific regions. Participants from 35 countries attended, sharing their experiences, building knowledge and skills, and identifying challenges and opportunities for integrating human rights into NSPs. Participants included: national AIDS programme managers; officials from ministries of health, gender and justice; civil society representatives; members of affected communities; and UN staff.

The workshops aimed to increase participants’ knowledge of why human rights and HIV programmes must be connected, and how a lack of integration is undermining the effectiveness of the HIV response.

UNAIDS and the Alliance have co-published ‘Making it Work’ which documents some short-term outcomes and lessons learnt from this initiative.

You can download the report here, or read it online below.

So what’s changed?

Success has been reported in all three regions. Human rights or rights of specific key populations have been incorporated into NSPs in Algeria, Fiji, Kenya, Morocco, the Philippines and Uganda.

Initiatives in other countries have also made significant progress. For example, costings for human rights-related activities in Botswana have been included in its National Operational Plan, and a legal literacy project in India for key populations has commenced in three states.

Challenges still exist and vary from country to country. In Morocco, for example, the inclusion of the rights of people living with HIV in the country’s NSP is significant progress, but criminalisation of men who have sex with men remains a key challenge.

What does a human rights based approach mean?

A human rights-based approach to HIV addresses the needs of those affected, and ensures the meaningful participation of all sections of society, including the most vulnerable and marginalised.