Pretoria: University of Pretoria, Centre for the Study of AIDS, 2004. 86 p.
The link between HIV/AIDS and human rights became apparent early on in the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the increased vulnerability of infection of some groups. HIV/AIDS is a human rights issue because groups that are already vulnerable to human rights violations - such as women, children, sex workers, and those living in poverty - are unable to realise their rights. This makes them more susceptible to HIV/AIDS.Individuals who are denied the right to freedom of association and access to information may be precluded from discussing issues related to HIV/AIDS, participating in AIDS service organisations and self-help groups, and taking other preventive measures to protect themselves from HIV infection. For example, women, and particularly young women, are more vulnerable to infection if they lack access to information, education and services necessary to ensure sexual and reproductive health and prevention of infection. People living in poverty are often unable to access HIV care and treatment, including anti-retroviral treatment and medication for opportunistic infections. Thus, we see that in Africa, AIDS as a disease is particularly destructive for young black women.The rights of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs) are often violated because of their presumed or known HIV status, causing them to suffer both the burden of the disease and the burden of discrimination. Stigmatisation and discrimination may affect up-take of treatment, and may also affect employment, housing and other rights. This, in turn, contributes to the vulnerability of others to infection, since HIV-related stigma and discrimination discourages individuals infected with and affected by HIV from contacting health and social services.The result is that those most needing information, education and counselling will not benefit, even where such services are available. This also nhibits an effective response. HIV prevention, treatment, support and care strategies are hampered in an environment where human rights are not respected. Applying a human rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS is not new. It seeks to ensure that human rights are respected and promoted, and also seeks to mitigate the social and economic impact of the pandemic.
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