What do human rights have to do with HIV and AIDS?
Human rights are inextricably linked with the spread and impact of HIV on individuals and communities around the world. A lack of respect for human rights fuels the spread and exacerbates the impact of the disease, while at the same time HIV undermines progress in the realisation of human rights. This link is apparent in the disproportionate incidence and spread of the disease among certain groups which, depending on the nature of the epidemic and the prevailing social, legal and economic conditions, include women and children, and particularly those living in poverty. It is also apparent in the fact that the overwhelming burden of the epidemic today is borne by developing countries, where the disease threatens to reverse vital achievements in human development. AIDS and poverty are now mutually reinforcing negative forces in many developing countries.
The relationship between HIV/AIDS and human rights is highlighted in three areas: Increased vulnerability: Certain groups are more vulnerable to contracting the HIV virus because they are unable to realize their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. For example, individuals who are denied the right to freedom of association and access to information may be precluded from discussing issues related to HIV, participating in AIDS service organizations and self-help groups, and taking other preventive measures to protect themselves from HIV infection. Women, and particularly young women, are more vulnerable to infection if they lack of access to information, education and services necessary to ensure sexual and reproductive health and prevention of infection. The unequal status of women in the community also means that their capacity to negotiate in the context of sexual activity is severely undermined. People living in poverty often are unable to access HIV care and treatment, including antiretrovirals and other medications for opportunistic...
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