Navi Pillay, UN:
Protection of human rights essential in fight against HIV/AIDS
March 22, 2012
A top United Nations official today
stressed the importance of protecting the rights of individuals with
HIV/AIDS, as well as of populations who are more vulnerable to the
During the first UN Human Rights Council panel on HIV, High Commissioner
for Human Rights Navi Pillay underlined that although there has been
much progress since HIV was first discovered 31 years ago, there is
still much to be done to ensure that no human rights violations are
committed which make individuals more vulnerable to the disease.
“HIV has taught us a lot about how the neglect of human rights increases
vulnerability,” Ms. Pillay said. “The lack of respect for human rights
has not only fuelled the epidemic, it has brought to the surface
pernicious and persistent forms of discrimination and marginalization,
in multiple and overlapping manifestations.”
Ms. Pillay emphasized that protecting human rights is a central element
to effectively combat the epidemic as ending discrimination against
vulnerable populations will lead to a more inclusive approach when
implementing and monitoring HIV policies and programmes.
“Sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, people who
use drugs, prisoners and persons in detention, migrants, refugees,
persons who live in poverty, people with disabilities, orphans, young
women and girls must not only be included in national responses to HIV,
they must also be involved in the policy options and choices that affect
them,” Ms. Pillay said.
is no coincidence that these populations are the most vulnerable to the
epidemic – they not only bear the burden of the disease, they also
endure a broad range of human rights violations,” she added.
Ms. Pillay underscored that a human rights approach to HIV also needs to
address a wide range of abuses which may increase vulnerability to the
disease such as violence against women and girls, in addition to
ensuring that current laws and practices do not discriminate against
people living with HIV.
She also called on countries to increase their funding for AIDS response
so citizens can have access to affordable lifesaving treatment. “Funding
the AIDS response is not only necessary; it is also a human rights legal
obligation. We should not permit the current economic crisis to
translate into a reversal in the gains made so far,” she said.