Disability advocates have long known from observation that people with disabilities around the world are often at higher risk for HIV/AIDS. The difficulty has been in persuading mainstream educators and service providers of this fact. A new policy brief on disability and HIV can help advocates educate governments, mainstream organizations, and agencies about the need to include people with disabilities in HIV-related programs and services.
Disabled people are routinely excluded, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose, from mainstream education outreach programs on HIV and from health care services meant for people with AIDS. But a growing body of evidence shows that people with disabilities have an active sex life and are as likely as anyone else in engage in risky behaviors. They also are far more likely to be targeted for sexual assault, particularly from men who have HIV. The United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS), World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have jointly released a new, 8-page policy brief on disability and HIV. This policy brief summarizes what is known about disabled people and their high risk level for being infected with HIV. It also summarizes some of the reasons why they have been excluded from mainstream programs meant to prevent HIV transmission. For example, many workers in the field mistakenly assume that people with disabilities don’t have sex or never abuse drugs. Or they may simply neglect to consider the needs of deaf people who need information delivered in sign language or highly visual materials; blind people who need materials in audio or Braille formats; people with intellectual disabilities who need information in plain language; or people with mobility impairments who may need to attend training workshops held in wheelchair accessible buildings.
The Disability and HIV Policy Brief includes a set of recommendations for governments, including suggestions such as ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); providing HIV information in different formats tailored for different disability groups; providing people with disabilities with the same range of HIV, sexual, and reproductive health services as the rest of the population; ensuring that people with disabilities are trained to provide HIV-related education and care; and more. The policy brief also includes a few recommendations for civil society (for example, Non-Governmental Organizations) as well as for international agencies. The last section of the policy brief describes an example of AIDS-related activities in South Africa.
Learn more about the new policy brief at http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/Resources/FeatureStories/archive/2009/20090409_Disability_HIV.asp. Or download the 8-page policy brief in PDF format (207 Kb) at http://data.unaids.org/pub/Manual/2009/jc1632_policy_brief_disability_en.pdf.
We Can Do learned about this policy brief via a notice posted to the IDA CRPD Forum email discussion group. I then gathered additional information about the UNAIDS web site and from the policy brief in PDF format (207 Kb).
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