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Resolution passed to promote rights of groups affected by HIV

Wednesday, 12 June, 2013

The Organisation of American States (OAS)- a coalition of 35 independent states from Latin America, North America and the Caribbean- have passed a resolution to promote and protect the human rights of people living, or affected by HIV in the region. The bold pledge aims to tackle obstacles faced by people living with HIV, and groups vulnerable to HIV. Entrenched stigmatisation and discrimination from community and religious leaders, and state officials were noted barriers in the draft resolution, as were the inadequacies in the access to health services, medical insurance and rights in the work place.

By approving the resolutions, during the 43rd General Assembly, delegates from the Americas are recognising there are still challenges that need to be addressed in the regions HIV response, despite the significant strides made in recent years. New infection rates in Latin America are approximately 10,000 down in 2011 from 2001, and treatment coverage is high resulting in a 10% decline in AIDS-related deaths between 2005 and 2011. While infection rates in the Caribbean are higher than any region outside of sub-Saharan Africa, it has seen a sharp drop in new infection, by 42% since 2001.

The draft resolution discusses the importance of executing mass campaigns to inform people, for improved prevention and treatment. But the most striking part of the draft resolution is the acknowledgement that that groups affected by HIV should play a more prominent role in the regions response to the epidemic.  To intensify regional efforts the resolution urged member states to enforce legislations that protect human rights of people living with, or vulnerable to HIV, such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, injecting drug users and indigenous populations.

The passing of the resolution is an important step forward. It shows the realisation that fundamental freedoms of people affected or living with HIV is an essential element in more effectively tackling the spread of HIV and giving more people access to treatment, support and care.