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Linking disability and HIV

Apr 14, 2009

UNAIDS’ new document Disability and HIV Policy Brief calls for HIV services to be inclusive of persons with disabilities. It recommends stakeholders to formulate policies responding to the diverse needs of the disabled and seeking their increased participation in HIV response.

Disability and HIV Policy Brief

Publisher: UNAIDS, April 2009

A large percentage of persons with disabilities are found to be at a higher risk of exposure to HIV, however not much attention has been paid to the relationship between HIV and disability.

Disability and HIV.jpg

Due to insufficient access to appropriate HIV prevention and support services, persons with disabilities may engage in behaviours which place them at risk of HIV infection, such as unprotected heterosexual or male-to-male sex (including in the context of sex work) and injecting drug use.

The document specifies key points that put person with disabilities at risk of HIV infection:

  • HIV risk behaviours
  • Sexual violence
  • Access to HIV education, information and prevention services
  • Access to Treatment, Care and Support

Health-related rehabilitation is increasingly seen as an important aspect in the continuum of HIV care. Rehabilitation professionals play a key role in accurately assessing and addressing the issue.

  • A few workable recommendations have been also placed in the paper:
  • Protecting and promoting the human rights of persons with disabilities
  • Incorporate the human rights and needs of persons with disabilities into national HIV strategic plans and policies
  • Prohibit all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities
  • Develop appropriate programmes and mechanisms to prevent sexual assault or abuse of persons
  • Comprehensive HIV testing, treatment, care and support services

Involve persons with disabilities in the planning, implementation and evaluation of HIV programme.

The policy paper highlights the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in participating in decision making, implementation and evaluation of HIV policies and programmes. This is found to be the best way of ensuring that policies and programmes are responsive to their needs.

Source : UNAIDS
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