On this occasion of World AIDS Day, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Commission), through its Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and Those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV (Committee), joins the rest of the world to commemorate this important day, in memory of people who have passed away as a result of the pandemic, and in support of people living with HIV and those affected by the epidemic.
This year’s event is commemorated under the theme “My Health, My Right”, which is a particularly timely theme, as it helps to underscore the crucial role of mainstreaming human rights by States parties in the fight against the epidemic and the management of its consequences.
In spite of the significant progress made in the fight against HIV on the continent, the Committee remains concerned that even though the right to health is recognised as a universal right guaranteed by international, regional and national legal instruments, there is still an increasing gab between the obligations of States and the effectiveness of the right to health. Indeed, in many African countries, people living with HIV, and in particular groups at risk, continue to face many obstacles regarding HIV screening and access to prevention, treatment, care and services as a result of economic barriers, prejudice and stereotype, gender inequality, harmful socio-cultural practices, and continuous stigmatisation and discrimination, including in health centres.
The Committee is concerned by the continuous decrease of funds allocated to the health sector and which particularly affects the various programmes for the fight against HIV. The Committee is also concerned by the lack of well-trained personnel in the health sector, and the lack of and/or poor coordination among the various stakeholders, factors that further constitute real challenges for people living with HIV and groups at risk in the enjoyment and exercise of their right to health.
The Committee would like to remind States parties of their obligations regarding the right to health and the subsequent rights under the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and calls upon States to increase budget allocation for the health sector in accordance with the Abuja Declaration towards the effective enjoyment of the right to health of the population, including people living with HIV and groups at risk.
The Committee encourages States parties to take the necessary measures to ensure a human rights-based response to HIV by putting an end to all acts that may undermine the effectiveness of HIV response, in particular by having laws, policies and programmes to strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of people living with HIV and groups at risk.
The Committee would also like to remind all stakeholders that our collective responsibility in the fight against HIV is now a greater necessity than ever before. The Committee calls upon all stakeholders, at their various levels of action and influence, to play an active role at the national, regional and international level, towards promoting the effective implementation of all the rights of people living with HIV and groups at risk, including their right to health.
Honourable Commissioner Soyata Maiga
Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Chairperson of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV and Those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV