|HIV/AIDS and Human Rights International Guidelines Joint publication UNAIDS and United Nations (UNAIDS, 1998, 62 p.)|
|Chapitre 3. INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS AND HIV/AIDS|
Introduction: HIV/AIDS, human rights and public health
72. Several years of experience in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic have confirmed that the promotion and protection of human rights constitute an essential component in preventing transmission of HIV and reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS. The protection and promotion of human rights are necessary both to the protection of the inherent dignity of persons affected by HIV/AIDS and to the achievement of the public health goals of reducing vulnerability to HIV infection, lessening the adverse impact of HIV/AIDS on those affected and empowering individuals and communities to respond to HIV/AIDS.
73. In general, human rights and public health share the common objective to promote and to protect the rights and well-being of all individuals. From the human rights perspective, this can best be accomplished by promoting and protecting the rights and dignity of everyone, with special emphasis on those who are discriminated against or whose rights are otherwise interfered with. Similarly, public health objectives can best be accomplished by promoting health for all, with special emphasis on those who are vulnerable to threats to their physical, mental or social well-being. Thus, health and human rights complement and mutually reinforce each other in any context. They also complement and mutually reinforce each other in the context of HIV/AIDS.
74. One aspect of the interdependence of human rights and public health is demonstrated by studies showing that HIV prevention and care programmes with coercive or punitive features result in reduced participation and increased alienation of those at risk of infection.15 In particular, people will not seek HIV-related counselling, testing, treatment and support if this would mean facing discrimination, lack of confidentiality and other negative consequences. Therefore, it is evident that coercive public health measures drive away the people most in need of such services and fail to achieve their public health goals of prevention through behavioural change, care and health support.
15 J. Dwyer, Legislating AIDS Away: The Limited Role of Legal Persuasion in Minimizing the Spread of HIV, in 9 Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy 167 (1993).
75. Another aspect of the linkage between the protection of human rights and effective HIV/AIDS programmes is apparent in the fact that the incidence or spread of HIV/AIDS is disproportionately high among some populations. Depending on the nature of the epidemic and the legal, social and economic conditions in each country, groups that may be disproportionately affected include women, children, those living in poverty, minorities, indigenous people, migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, people with disabilities, prisoners, sex workers, men having sex with men and injecting drug users-that is to say groups who already suffer from a lack of human rights protection and from discrimination and/or are marginalized by their legal status. Lack of human rights protection disempowers these groups to avoid infection and to cope with HIV/AIDS, if affected by it.16
16 For the purposes of these Guidelines, these groups will be referred to as vulnerable groups although it is recognized that the degree and source of vulnerability of these groups vary widely within countries and across regions.
76. Furthermore, there is growing international consensus that a broadly based, inclusive response, involving people living with HIV/AIDS in all its aspects, is a main feature of successful HIV/AIDS programmes. Another essential component of comprehensive response is the facilitation and creation of a supportive legal and ethical environment which is protective of human rights. This requires measures to ensure that Governments, communities and individuals respect human rights and human dignity and act in a spirit of tolerance, compassion and solidarity.
77. One essential lesson learned from the HIV/AIDS epidemic is that universally recognized human rights standards should guide policy makers in formulating the direction and content of HIV-related policy and form an integral part of all aspects of national and local responses to HIV/AIDS.