Originally published on Advocate.com July 16 2008 12:00 AM ET
A coalition of
HIV/AIDS and human rights organizations released a
statement encouraging national governments to make human
rights a central theme of the biannual International
world’s largest gathering on HIV/AIDS opens in Mexico
City on August 3, ending August 8.
“It is a tragic irony that those at highest
risk of HIV often receive the least attention,”
said Richard Elliott, executive director of the
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, in a press release issued
by the collation on Tuesday.
countries, drug users are the majority of people living with
HIV but the smallest group receiving antiretroviral
treatment. When they’re arrested,
they’re even less likely to receive the HIV
prevention and treatment services they need,”
wants the conference to focus on the discrimination and
stigma attached to transgender people, sex workers, men who
have sex with men, and drug users, who are all
considered at high risk for contracting HIV.
HIV/AIDS and human rights organizations also highlighted the
human rights abuses faced by women, who account for
the majority of HIV infections in Africa.
It is hoped that
governments will combat the epidemic by addressing laws
that not only deny women equal access to divorce, property,
and inheritance, but increase vulnerability to
infection and hinder access to treatment.
year’s program includes a plenary address on human
rights, a "human rights networking zone" in the
conference’s Global Village, and a rally on
August 7 to highlight the need for a much greater
focus on human rights in order to achieve universal access
to HIV prevention, treatment, and care. (The