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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Alliance links human rights and HIV at EU hearing

2
FEB
2009

Aids Alliance

Executive Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Alvaro Bermejo, addressed a hearing on HIV and human rights at the European Parliament on 11 December. He and other speakers called on the European Union (EU) to strengthen links between human rights and the international response to AIDS.

The event brought together programme and policy experts to discuss the right to freedom from stigma and discrimination; sexual and reproductive health and rights of people living with HIV; and the right to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care.

A number of presenters – including Marielle Hart of the Stop AIDS Alliance – highlighted how stigma and discrimination prevent marginalised groups and HIV positive women from accessing services.

Speakers urged the EU to ensure coherent policies in relation to drug use, sex work, human rights and same sex behaviour. There is a need to avoid counterproductive initiatives that waste effort and money and only add to the burdens of disadvantage and ill health of high-risk and marginalised groups, they said.

In his closing speech, Bermejo outlined how HIV infection fuels human rights abuses and vice versa.

“We need the EU to both advocate forcefully and help build the policy and programming capacity of marginalised groups whose vulnerability to HIV infection is increased because of stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses,” he said.

Nils Daulaire, President of the Global Health Council, highlighted the relevance of this debate on human rights and HIV, and the need for a more coordinated approach across the Atlantic.

“Debates on travel restrictions, treatment versus prevention, and sexual and reproductive needs of people living with HIV/AIDS have been very divisive. Those of us sitting around this table probably fall on the same side of the debate but must acknowledge that there are others who think differently. I am confident that the new Obama administration will make progress along these lines and build stronger links with our European counterparts,” said Daulaire.

The meeting was organised by the Stop AIDS Alliance in collaboration with the European Parliament Working Group on Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Development.