Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS believed that their lives were going to be cut short. Not so today. In fact, thanks to HART, Highly Active Retroviral Therapy, AIDS has become a chronic, rather than life threatening, condition.
UNAIDS released a report in advance of World AIDS Day with hopeful news about the epidemic: there has been nearly a 50 percent reduction in new infections across 25 low and middle income countries. As UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe put it, “We are moving from despair to hope.” Young people are at the center of that success.
The 10th anniversary of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day reminds us how far we still have to go to address race-based health disparities. But we must keep our efforts trained on the real causes of these statistics: social and economic conditions.
Medical advances, improved access to care, prevention initiatives, and revived determination are all good signs, but as a global culture, we will need to shift our perspective to stop the spread of HIV.
A judgment by the high court in Namibia in favor of three women who claimed they had been sterilized without their informed consent confirms the principle that in order for consent to be truly “informed,” it must be freely given and clearly understood.
If we are fighting HIV, we need to join hands no matter whether we are straight, gay, sex workers, whatever…but with no discrimination. This is high time we tell the US government they should respect all human rights – whether you are a sex worker, straight, gay, disabled. We are all equal.
The definition of criminal offenses, the selective implementation of the law, and the resulting stereotypes generate a self-enforcing loop of discrimination and exclusion to the detriment of all. The exclusion of so many legitimate voices from this year’s AIDS conference is just one example.
We will only be able to get people into treatment early, and retain them in treatment, if we finally move from rhetoric to real action on HIV and human rights.
No Global Fund, no international forums will be able to save us from our own trouble until we, ourselves, get to work, until we start to mobilize, until we take our destiny into our hands.
A rights-based perspective for the global AIDS response requires addressing the comprehensive needs of women and girls, including those seen in areas that do not “conform” to the focus on motherhood and marriage.